LONDON- A senior British minister said on Tuesday there was still a chance of a turbulent Brexit without a trade deal as talks with the European Union had snagged on fishing, governance rules and dispute resolution.
Just 30 days before Britain leaves the EU’s orbit following a standstill transition period since it formally quit the bloc, the sides are trying to agree a trade deal to avoid a rupture that
could snarl almost $1 trillion in annual trade.
With each side urging the other to compromise, a French official said Britain must clarify its positions and “really negotiate”, and cautioned that the EU would not accept a “substandard deal”.
Both Britain and the EU say they want a deal, and their two negotiating teams have been locked in intensive talks for more than five weeks though they are still at odds over the three most contentious issues.
Michael Gove, the cabinet minister responsible for the divorce deal, said an agreement was close but that to get it over the line the EU would have to live up to its responsibilities.
Asked if a “no deal” scenario was closer than anyone would admit, he told ITV: “It’s certainly the case that there is a chance that we may not get a negotiated outcome.”
“That’s why it’s important business prepares for all eventualities, but I very much want a deal and I believe that we can secure one,” Gove said.
Gove avoided repeating an earlier prediction of a 66 percent probability of a deal, declining
to give a figure.
A report by Times Radio that the talks had entered the so-called “tunnel” or final stretch saw the pound rise to as high as $1.3442.
While most major investment banks say a deal is their central prediction, some investors have pointed out that Wall Street and the City of London were poorly prepared for the 2016 referendum as few believed the United Kingdom would vote out.
Failure to secure a deal would snarl borders, spook financial markets and disrupt delicate supply chains that stretch across Europe and beyond — just as the world grapples with the vast economic cost of the COVID-19 outbreak.