Brexit talks are deadlocked, with discussions so far unable to push through the stopping blocks of fishing and rules on fair competition for billions of pounds of business. Now the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg has revealed why all may not be as believed when it comes to the EU’s and UK’s no deal stance.
Both the EU and UK’s negotiation teams have made it clear a no deal Brexit could be a distinct possibility.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week it was “very, very likely” the UK would exit the EU without a deal.
And officials have reported European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen said the “probability of a no deal is higher than of a deal.”
In a statement on Tuesday after discussions with Mr Johnson over dinner, Ms Von Der Leyen said: “We gained a clear understanding of each other’s positions. They remain far apart.”
Sunday, December 13 is the date by which the UK and EU need to have come to an agreement – or else no deal.
However, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told BBC News he “can’t rule out” further talks, following Mr Johnson’s inability to bridge “very large gaps” after meeting with Ms Von Der Leyen.
Mr Rahman also tweeted: “No matter what happens tomorrow @10DowningStreet views the real deadline as 31 December”.
So could discussions continue after Sunday, in the hopes of hammering out a deal?
All signs so far point to no, with both the EU and UK preparing for a no deal exit.
Current odds from Smarkets place the chance of a Brexit deal at just 37 percent.
Smarkets Head of Political Markets, Sarbjit Bakhshi, said: “As negotiations between the UK and the EU enter their final phase, both sides are ratcheting up the tension with the European Commission asking member states not to allow mini-transition-period extensions and the Royal Naval on standby to block European fishing vessels in the event of a no-deal outcome.
“Although the chance of a deal is a long way down from its high of 89 percent three weeks ago, recent developments, such as the UK dropping attempts to breach international law and allowing checks between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, suggest that a deal in 2020 is still within grasp, if still somewhat unlikely at 37 percent.”
However, we will have to wait until an announcement comes on Sunday to know for sure.
Speaking on a visit to Blyth in Northumberland earlier this week, Mr Johnson said talks between the sides were not progressing.
He said: “I’ve got to tell that from where I stand now, here in Blyth, it is looking very, very likely that we will have to go for a solution that I think would be wonderful for the UK, and we’d be able to do exactly what we want from January.”
“It obviously would be different from what we’d set out to achieve but I have no doubt this country can get ready and, as I say, come out on World Trade [Organization] terms.”
If there is no deal the UK will exit the EU on December 31 and revert to WTO terms.
There are 164 WTO members and if they haven’t agreed on free-trade agreements with one another, they trade under basic “WTO rules”.
As part of preparations for a no deal Brexit, four Royal Navy patrol ships will be ready from January 1 to help Britain protect its fishing waters.
The Ministry of Defence (MOD) spokesman said the MOD “has conducted extensive planning and preparation to ensure that defence is ready for a range of scenarios at the end of the transition period.
“This preparation includes a standby package of 14,000 personnel to ensure that we are ready to support other government departments and authorities over the winter period, including with the EU transition, COVID-19 and potential severe weather events.”