UK inches closer to Brexit trade deal with EU, but says that it will not get there at any cost

The UK Finance Minister said that Britain and the European Union can agree to a trade deal and that one is taking shape – but London will not sign up to an accord at any cost.
calendar icon 29 November 2020
clock icon 3 minute read

Reuters reports that with just five weeks left on the calendar until the United Kingdom exits the EU's orbit, both sides are calling on the other to move their positions to clear the way for a trade deal that would avoid a tumultuous finale to the five-year Brexit crisis.

Officials in Britain and the EU say the talks are still snagged on two main issues, fair competition guarantees and fisheries, but neither, so far, have shown a willingness to shift enough on either to make way for any breakthrough.

"With a constructive attitude and goodwill on all sides we can get there," Sunak told Sky. "It's clear what the shape of the deal looks like."

"It is preferable" to get a deal, Sunak told LBC radio. "We absolutely should not be stretching for a deal at any cost, that is not the right thing to do."

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said on 26 November the EU was ready for the possibility of Britain leaving the bloc without a new trade accord despite "genuine progress" in the tortuous Brexit talks.

An official involved in the negotiations said a deal was possible, but not likely before the weekend at the earliest. An EU diplomat said it was more likely to come next week.

After a member of the EU's negotiating team tested positive for COVID-19, this week's talks have been conducted virtually - something Britain said it wanted to change as soon as the end of the week if possible, potentially to give them some impetus.

The European Union's chief negotiator on a trade deal with Britain Michel Barnier will talk on Friday with some of the bloc's ministers responsible for fisheries to discuss the state of play in the trade discussions, an EU official said.

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