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UK needs to make a Brexit call soon: Deal or no-deal?

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Britain cannot tell businesses to prepare at the last minute if talks between London and Brussels fail to agree a Brexit deal so Prime Minister Boris Johnson will need to make a decision sooner rather than later, a junior minister said on Thursday (15 October), writes Guy Faulconbridge.

“If we can’t get a deal, rightly so, we’ve got to allow businesses to prepare,” Junior Business Minister Nadhim Zahawi told Sky News.

“I can’t go to businesses at the 11th hour on 31 December... We have to make a decision much sooner.”

Goldman Sachs said on Thursday that there could be drama at the EU summit over Brexit but that a thin trade deal was likely to struck by early November.

Goldman Sachs says there could be Brexit drama ahead and then a thin deal

“Neither the UK Prime Minister’s 15 October deadline nor the European Commission’s 31 October deadline constitutes a hard stop on Brexit negotiations,” Goldman analyst Sven Jari Stehn said in a note to clients. “This week’s European Council may well feature an additional dose of political drama.”

“We think the perceived probability of ‘no deal’ will persist through the course of October. But our core view remains that a ‘thin’ zero-tariff/zero-quota trade agreement will likely be struck by early November,” Goldman said.

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UK will not back down on fisheries policy in EU talks: Gove

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Britain will not back down on its demands to the European Union over fisheries, minister Michael Gove said in a 26 October letter sent to a minister in the devolved Welsh government, writes William James.

Responding to concerns set out by Jeremy Miles, Wales’s Minister for European Transition, Gove wrote: “I am afraid we strongly disagree with your premise that we should ‘back down’ on fisheries.

“The UK government’s view is that in all circumstances, the UK must be an independent coastal state, no longer be bound by the Common Fisheries Policy.”

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Brexit decision entirely separate from US election outcome says PM Johnson

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Britain’s decision on whether to agree a Brexit deal with the European Union is entirely separate to the outcome of the US election next month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday (26 October), writes William James.

“The two things are entirely separate,” Johnson said, when asked about an Observer newspaper report that he was waiting to see the US result before making a Brexit decision, and whether he was concerned about the prospect of a Joe Biden presidency.

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'Time is very short' Britain says as EU's Barnier heads to London

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Britain said on Monday (26 October) that time was very short to bridge the significant remaining gaps on key issues in talks with the European Union, as EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier heads to London to continue negotiations, write and

The United Kingdom left the European Union in January but the two sides are trying to clinch a deal that would govern nearly a trillion dollars in annual trade before a transition period of informal membership ends on 31 December.

After a brief hiatus when London walked away from the negotiating table, both sides are now meeting daily to try to find common ground.

At stake is the smooth flow of cross-border trade as well as the harder-to-quantify damage that a chaotic exit would do to areas such as security information sharing and research and development cooperation.

“There is much work to be done if we’re going to bridge what are the significant gaps that remain between our positions in the most difficult areas and time is very short,” Johnson’s spokesman said.

Barnier and his EU team will be in London until Wednesday, after which talks will switch to Brussels and continue through the weekend, an EU spokesperson said.

EU diplomats were not expected to be briefed on progress in the latest batch of talks until later in the week.

Johnson told reporters he was very glad to be talking with the EU again, but offered no new clues on the likelihood of a deal: “We’ll see where we go.”

Since talks restarted last week, British ministers have said real progress has been made and that there is a good chance of a deal. On Sunday, Ireland’s deputy prime minister, Leo Varadkar, said a deal to avoid tariffs and quotas was likely.

After some progress on competition guarantees including state aid rules, the hardest issue remains fishing - Johnson has insisted on taking back control over Britain’s waters while the EU wants access.

Although Britain insists it can prosper without a deal, British companies are facing a wall of bureaucracy that threatens chaos at the border if they want to sell into the world’s biggest trading bloc when life after Brexit begins on 1 January.

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