News World Brexit crunch time as EU and UK still divided over trade deal

Brexit crunch time as EU and UK still divided over trade deal

Brexit hung in the balance on Monday as Britain and the European Union made a last-ditch attempt to bridge significant differences to strike a trade deal that would avoid a disorderly exit in just 24 days time.

As fears rose of a chaotic no-trade deal Brexit on December 31 when the United Kingdom finally leaves the EU’s orbit, talks will resume in Brussels before Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen review the situation in the evening.

Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin said on Sunday the odds of a deal were just 50-50 while investment bank JPMorgan said odds of a no-trade deal exit had risen to one third from 20 percent.

“Decisive hours for the future of EU-UK relations,” said Sebastian Fischer, an EU spokesman for Germany, the current holder of the EU presidency.

Failure to secure a deal would snarl borders, spook financial markets and disrupt the delicate supply chains that stretch across Europe and beyond just as the world tries to cope with the vast economic cost of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sterling was a touch lower vs the dollar, easing off the 2-1/2-year highs of $1.3540 hit on Friday, though overnight and one-week implied volatility rose to an 8-month high.

DEAL OR NO DEAL?

For weeks, the two sides have been haggling – as yet without a result – over fishing rights in British waters, ensuring fair competition for companies and ways to solve future disputes.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier told national envoys to Brussels on Monday morning that there was no agreement yet in UK trade talks, a senior diplomat told Reuters.

Updating the EU envoys from 0630 GMT, Barnier said the three most contentious issues in the negotiations have not yet been resolved, according to the diplomat, who was taking part in the closed-door briefing.

“I still think it is more likely than not that we will find a way of getting a deal done but I won’t be shocked if it falls apart,” Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney was quoted as saying by the Irish Times.

“If we don’t get a deal in the next few days, then obviously there are serious problems around ratification and timelines.”

In a move that could further undermine the talks, the British government will press ahead with draft laws this week that would breach London’s earlier divorce treaty with the bloc.

Junior Foreign Office Minister James Cleverly said on Monday the clauses that breach the treaty would be re-inserted. (Reuters)

Top Stories

Action plan drafted for gradual unlocking of covid measures

Health experts advising the government on covid-19 have expressed cautious optimism that the strict restrictive measures currently in effect should be lifted by end...

Church and bagels to go: Biden’s first White House Sunday

President Joe Biden attended a church service in Washington's Georgetown neighbourhood and stopped for bagels at a hot pink shop named "Call Your Mother"...

Navalny supporters protest his arrest, in Moscow

Law enforcement officers detain a woman during a rally in support of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Moscow, Russia January 23, 2021.

Police still looking for young man missing from mental hospital

Police are still looking for a 20-year-old man missing from Athalassa Psychiatric Hospital in Nicosia since Saturday afternoon. He is Theodoros Topouzides (top photo) from...

Mainly fine on Monday with high cloud in the afternoon

Mainly fine on Monday with high cloud in the afternoon and light to moderate north-easterly to south-easterly winds blowing at a force of 3...

Taste

Squash soup

Ingredients: 1 kg pumpkin, cut into small cubes, approximately 5 cups 2 medium (400g) sweet potatoes, cut into cubes, approximately 2 ½ cups 1 chopped leek, only...

Mezedes

No visit to Cyprus is complete without enjoying the traditional meal of many small dishes known as ‘meze’. This large feast, which has been a...

Prawns with fried cheese, barley shaped pasta

Put the barley shaped pasta into a small pan with salted water, bring to a boil and when tender, drain. Peal the prawns leaving...

Salmon and shrimp sheftalies

Mix all ingredients for tabbouli in a bowl and keep to one side so flavours can combine. Prepare the sheftalies: wash and soak the casing...