The UK has pointed out that the chances for the Brexit deal are below 50%. Senior British minister Michael Gove put the chances of securing a trade deal with the European Union at less than 50% on Thursday, striking a pessimistic tone just two weeks before Britain completes its departure from the bloc.
His downbeat prediction contrasted sharply with remarks by the EU’s chief negotiators suggesting there had been good progress. Both sides are trying to prevent a turbulent finale to four years of tortuous discussion.
Optimism had been rising that a deal was imminent to keep the goods trade; that makes up half of annual EU-UK commence, worth nearly; a trillion dollars in all, free of tariffs and quotas beyond December 31. But both sides say there are still gaps; to be bridged and it was so far unclear whether either would shift far enough to open the way for a breakthrough.
EU diplomatic sources said the 27 member states; would get an update on Friday, although they suggested any decision on a deal; was more likely to come on Saturday. Earlier, British interior minister Priti Patel said the talks had entered; the “tunnel” – EU jargon for the final, secretive make-or-break phase, and EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier tweeted: “Good Progress, but last stumbling blocks remain.”
But Gove, who oversaw the implementation; of an earlier divorce deal, told the parliamentary committee: “I think that regrettably, the chances are more likely that we won’t secure an agreement.”
He put the probability at “less than 50%”, adding that, if the British parliament; did not have time to pass the deal into law by December 31, “then the clock has run out and no agreement would have been reached; and we will be in a world where we will be trading on WTO (World Trade Organisation) terms.”
He later said he believed the last possible deadline for getting a deal was in the days immediately after Christmas. Failure to agree on the Brexit deal on goods trade would send shockwaves through financial markets, damage European economies, snarl borders, and disrupt supply chains across Europe and beyond.
But currency traders appeared to take an upbeat view of the prospects for a deal. Shortly after Gove spoke, sterling was off its highs but still up around 0.5% at $1.3578 against a weaker dollar.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the face of the 2016 Brexit referendum campaign, has long said he will not accept; a deal that fails to respect British sovereignty after winning an election last year; on a pledge to “take back control”. Gove said some of the remaining differences went “to the very heart of the government’s mandate”.