Saturday, December 4

Brexit trade deal between UK and EU expected within hours


 

 

Agreement on a post-Brexit trade deal appears likely to be announced within hours, after nine months of tortuous negotiations.

A meeting of EU ambassadors has been pencilled in for Christmas Eve to start the ratification process. Sources in Brussels and London confirmed they believed the talks were now coming to a successful conclusion.

Diplomats representing the EU member states are already combing through some of the the 2,000 pages of legal text that have been agreed.

The European commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, is understood to have been in constant contact with Boris Johnson in the last 72 hours, as she has sought to strike a compromise satisfactory to Downing Street and the member states.

A final call is believed to be scheduled for Wednesday evening. One senior EU source told the Guardian: The stars have aligned.

Negotiations are understood to be continuing, with the telephone call by Johnson and the commission president likely to be the moment that a deal is announced. Downing Street and the European commission declined to comment.

Speaking to EU ambassadors on Tuesday, the bloc’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, said there was “political willing on both sides to get this over the line”, adding that “some things now have to go higher up”, according to one source in the room.

The two sides have been at loggerheads over future EU access and quotas in British fishing waters, an issue of small economic impact but of high political salience for both sides.

A vote by the European parliament to give consent to a trade and security agreement with the UK is no longer possible, given the lack of time left before the end of the transition period.

The UK exits the single market and customs union in eight days’ time, with or without new trade and security arrangements with the EU. MEPs said that did not provide sufficient time for scrutiny.