Brexit deal could be sealed on Christmas DAY if there’s breakthrough, Irish PM says


A BREXIT deal could be sealed on Christmas DAY if there’s a breakthrough in the next 48 hours, the Irish PM said today.

As hopes rose for a Christmas deal, Boris Johnson and EU chief Ursula von der Leyen are said to be in regular contact to thrash out an agreement over the last hurdle of fishing rights.

Both sides are in constant contact to push a deal over the line
The PM has promised not to back down on fish

The EU boss is in regular contact with Boris

Enough progress has been made that a deal is still likely, with a possible deal being inked out on Christmas Day, Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin said earlier.

He told the media: “If you had a breakthrough tonight or tomorrow, officials in Europe could be working Christmas Day on the text.

“On balance, I think given the progress that has been made that there should be a deal.”

He warned that the final sticking point was fish, and the gap was “still wide”.

Mr Martin added: “You will have read that the European Union put 25% on the table in terms of conceding that amount of catch in the UK waters and a six-year transition period and I think Britain have a far more stringent (position).”

Both sides are knuckling down at the highest level to try and push an agreement over the line in the next 48 hours – but talks could drag on through the festive season.

They pair have set up a direct hotline between Downing St and the EU HQ “part and parcel” of the final stretch of negotiations. 

A senior source on the UK side told HOAR “there is a deal on the table now and both sides want to be home for Christmas Eve, but things are strained.”

Hopes are rising today that a deal could be reached later today or possibly tomorrow – which would be a huge relief for negotiators still in Brussels.

Serious disagreement still remains over the key issues – but progress is said to have been made over EU rules known as the level playing field, and governance after the transition period.

Fishing is the final hurdle remaining, with both sides vowing to carry on talking until the final minute.

However, Downing Street are said to be furious with France’s blockade of freight across the Channel – which could have a knock on impact on the ongoing talks.

The PM presented a new British offer on fishing during two phone calls with Mrs von der Leyen last night. 

He proposed EU boats give back 35 per cent by value of their current catches in UK waters, to be phased in over five years. 

Experts said that would leave British vessels landing 72 per cent of fish by value by 2026. 

But EU officials have rejected the plan and are pushing for a longer transition of about seven years and a reduction of just 25 per cent.

France are a key player in pushing for as much access to Britain’s fishing stocks after we leave the EU’s transition period at the end of the year, which has been a major block in talks.

Britain has issued fresh fishing proposals to try to break Brexit deadlock

Both sides are still negotiating over fishing

No10 sources say there is still a way to go and Mr Johnson is understood to be “incandescent” at France’s behaviour over closing Calais because of mutant Covid. 

Another insider said the PM’s stance had “hardened” in recent days because of President Macron.

The source said: “There’s a real chance relations with the French sink this whole thing, if there was ever a time to tell them to get stuffed, this might be it.”

Britain will exit the transition period on 31 December, leaving without a deal in place if they can’t agree.

But if a deal is done, MPs are expected to be dragged back to the House of Commons to rubber stamp it.

Today Cabinet minister Robert Jenrick said he was “reasonably optimistic” about the prospect of a Brexit deal being thrashed out in the hours that remain.

But he told Sky News: “There is still the same serious areas of disagreement…

“We are working through those issues, our negotiators will keep going – the Prime Minister has been very clear that he is going to negotiate until the very end which is December 31 because that is the right thing, it is what the British public would expect.”

On Tuesday, the EU’s lead negotiator, Michel Barnier, said they were making a “final push” to reach a deal and it was a “crucial moment”.


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