UK sees 66% chance of Brexit trade deal but tells EU to hurry up

By Guy Faulconbridge, Kate Holton and William James LONDON (Reuters) - Britain said on Wednesday there was a 66% chance of a Brexit trade deal but sought to use Prime Minister Boris Johnson's deadline of Oct. 15 to hurry the bloc's negotiators towards an agreement. The two sides say they are inching towards a deal that would govern around $900 billion in trade after Dec.

Reuters October 08, 2020 01:10:51 IST
UK sees 66% chance of Brexit trade deal but tells EU to hurry up

UK sees 66 chance of Brexit trade deal but tells EU to hurry up

By Guy Faulconbridge, Kate Holton and William James

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain said on Wednesday there was a 66% chance of a Brexit trade deal but sought to use Prime Minister Boris Johnson's deadline of Oct. 15 to hurry the bloc's negotiators towards an agreement.

The two sides say they are inching towards a deal that would govern around $900 billion in trade after Dec. 31 - when the current transitional arrangements end - though sticking points remain on fishing, level playing field issues and governance.

"The landing zone and the nature of the agreement is pretty clear if not exactly pinned down yet," David Frost, the UK's chief Brexit negotiator, told parliament. "A deal is eminently achievable and could be achieved but equally it is possible that we won't get there."

When Johnson's Brexit supremo, Michael Gove, was asked by a Conservative lawmaker if the probability of a deal was still 66%, Gove said: "I think that's about right."

Frost cautioned the EU that an Oct. 15 deadline set by Johnson on Sept. 7 remained a deadline. The EU is due to asses progress on a deal at an Oct. 15-16 summit.

He added that Britain's "door would never be closed" and that a huge amount of textual work would need to follow Oct. 15 if an outline deal was struck.

"As we approach the 15th -- and it is very close already -- I will have to advise the prime minister on whether the conditions in his statement have been met or not, and we will have to consider the situation at that point," Frost said.

Sterling fell on a Bloomberg report that Britain would pull out of talks next week unless there was clear landing zone for a deal. Sources told Reuters the EU is gearing up to keep negotiating until as late as mid-November.

The United Kingdom formally left the EU on Jan. 31, more than three years after it voted 52%-48% for Brexit in a 2016 referendum. The two sides are now trying to work out how everything from cars to Camembert to whisky will trade.

Johnson told European Council President Charles Michel on Wednesday that some progress had been made but that significant differences remained.

"NOT AT ANY PRICE"

Gove said no-deal preparations were intensifying so that if the EU was intransigent and no good deal was available, the United Kingdom would not be held hostage by the EU.

"Those preparations are intensifying as we speak," Gove said. "While we are obviously keen to get a deal, we will not do a deal at any price."

The EU replied to Gove within hours.

"The EU prefers a deal, but not at any cost," said Michel. "Time for the UK to put its cards on the table."

While many investment banks say their base case is that a deal will be done, some diplomats fear Johnson could ultimately decide that a no-deal is more attractive in domestic political terms than such a thin trade deal.

The EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier briefed EU ambassadors in Brussels on Wednesday on the negotiations.

"Barnier did not strike a particularly optimistic tone today," said one diplomat who attended the briefing, adding that expectations for the Brexit-focused EU summit next week were low and negotiations were expected to continue after that.

Emotive issues remain unresolved, such as fishing.

A French EU lawmaker who chairs the European Parliament's fisheries committee told Reuters there could be no annual quota negotiation in a trade deal with Britain, sticking to a tough line from Paris that could make a Brexit deal more difficult.

Britain could agree to a "glide path" towards a suitable end point for a future fisheries agreement with the EU as long as it satisfied the country's fishing communities, Frost said.

(Additional reporting by John Chalmers and Elizabeth Piper; Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Catherine Evans, Gareth Jones and Alexandra Hudson)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.