After months of deadlock, a decision on Britain’s post-Brexit trade status with the EU is expected to be announced in the next few days.
Talks went on late into the night yesterday as the negotiating teams feel the pressure to resolve the final points of contention between the two sides, and get a deal agreed in time to be ratified by the end of the year when the UK’s transition formally ends.
The UK and EU have been locking horns since March, with fishing rights and competition laws proving the main sticking points. Both sides have refused to compromise and may yet walk away without an agreement if this continues.
EU negotiating team in London for last minute trade talks.
The late-night meetings however are seen as a positive sign that a deal is within reach, and sources believe that an announcement could be made this week. Despite multiple deadlines from either side passing without a result it is believed that next week would be the latest a deal could be ratified. This is based on the number of days either parliament is due to sit, and still assumes smooth sailing through either group, which is not a given at present.
Pleasing all member states of the EU could prove difficult, with countries like France in particular proving unwilling to compromise in the past over access to British waters for fishing.
In the UK, the government could face further rebellion from Conservative MPs who want a hard/no-deal Brexit. Labour meanwhile could also provide further difficultly with leader Sir Kier Starmer a strong advocate for a second referendum in the past. A rejected deal however would be tantamount to a no-deal given the transition period is a legally binding deadline, and as such could force Labour to support the deal.
In a further complication, the government’s controversial Internal Market Bill, which looks to overrule previously agreed parts of the Brexit deal, is to return next week for a further vote by MPs. The Bill had already drawn significant criticism over breaking international law and spurred the EU to initiate legal challenges against the UK. Should the government pass the Bill with the contentious clauses intact, it could threaten to derail any last-minute deal that is agreed this week before it can be ratified.
The Pound has risen to a 3-month high against a weakening Dollar today, and news of a deal being agreed could provide a further boost which will see it climb higher, and as a result see precious metal prices fall. If talks fail at the final hour, then the pound could sink, and precious metals rise. With just 28 days left talks are going to the wire, and an end is in sight by simple virtue of time running out.