THE global climate change talks in Glasgow might have to be delayed because of the coronavirus outbreak, Dominic Raab has warned.

The Foreign Secretary said the UK Government had not given up hope that it could still host the COP26 summit in November as planned but he warned that it would be a "challenge".

"I can't give you a cast-iron guarantee, things are moving so quickly," he told the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee.

"Obviously, it is not until November. We will keep it under close review. We would, of course, want it to go ahead but I can't give you any guarantee on that."

The United Nations-led talks - expected to bring 200 world leaders and 30,000 delegates to Scotland - are seen as crucial to getting international efforts to curb emissions back on track.

Glasgow is expected to receive an economic boost from the summit running into tens of millions of pounds.

Mr Raab explained that whether COP26 could be held in the autumn would depend on the "trajectory" of the Covid-19 outbreak over the coming weeks.

"It is going to be a challenge which is why we will keep striving to make it a reality. Obviously, we would rather avoid delay if we possibly can. We haven't got to the stage where I can tell you we have given up on it; we are still hoping we can deliver on it.”

The Secretary of State stressed that Government was waiting to see what the timing was going to be in terms of the duration of the coronavirus.

"It is still possible of today that it might be doable. As long as that is the case, we would want to try to give it a go."

However, Mr Raab stressed the Government remained committed to securing a post-Brexit free trade deal with Brussels by the end of the year.

Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, has been adamant that he will not seek an extension to the Brexit transition period to enable talks to continue if there is no agreement by the December 31 deadline.

"I can't say any more than the PM did," the Foreign Secretary told the committee.

"The negotiating texts have been exchanged. I would have thought in the 21st century there is scope for this to be done through teleconferencing and remotely; at least for the period it is required.

"I won't go any further than the PM at this point. We don't want to extend, we want to get this done. We don't want any more uncertainty than we have already had from this process."

His comments came as the EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, disclosed that he had tested positive for the Covid-19 virus.

"I am doing well and in good spirits. I am following all the necessary instructions, as is my team," he tweeted.

"For all those affected already, and for all those currently in isolation, we will get through this together," he added.