The chances of the UK and EU securing a trade deal before the end of the year are falling, according to bookmakers, despite a year of rising optimism that talks would succeed.
After a weekend of negotiations, Ursula von der Leyen, the EU chief, announced on December 13 that negotiations with the Prime Minister will continue, despite the deadline which was set for this Sunday.
A Brexit trade deal could be agreed this week if Britain compromises over fishing rights, the European Union’s chief negotiator said on Monday. As talks continued in Brussels, Michel Barnier said the UK had moved towards the EU’s demands for level playing field guarantees in the trade agreement.
The current odds being offered on no deal being reached before December 31 are 1.25/1, according to Oddschecker – an implied probability of 44 per cent.
It comes amid news that the Royal Navy is preparing to patrol Britain’s fishing waters in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Furthermore, sources from the EU have suggested they will impose “lightning tariffs” on Great Britain if the UK breaches the terms of a deal. This is, supposedly, one of the most significant obstacles in preventing a trade agreement.
Mr Johnson’s attempts to negotiate directly with Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron have been rebuffed three times in a week, prompting him to warn a no-deal outcome to Brexit talks is now “very, very likely”.
The Prime Minister has warned there is now a “strong possibility” of no deal.
Despite this, however, talks from December 13 hinted towards a newfound optimism compared to what we have seen previously.
No deal would mean Britain effectively trading with the EU on World Trade Organisation terms, with tariffs and regulatory checks on goods crossing the borders.
On December 10, Mr Johnson said the time had come to “get on and make those preparations” to trade on Australia-style terms with Europe from January 1.
The Prime Minister said the EU wants to treat the UK as a “twin” that must copy whatever it does in future, which is “clearly not the sensible way to proceed”.
The Telegraph disclosed on December 13 that cabinet ministers are drawing up a multibillion-pound bail-out package to bolster industries hardest hit by a no-deal Brexit.