In Depth

Brexit: what are the odds of a deal and what remains to be agreed?

Talks enter 11th-hour phase with likelihood of an agreement hanging in the balance

The unofficial deadline set by both UK and EU officials for agreeing a Brexit deal by the end of last week has come and gone, but negotiators are ploughing on in a last-ditch bid to secure a future trade agreement. 

The EU “backed down over post-Brexit fishing arrangements” on Sunday night, in what may be a significant victory for Britain, The Telegraph reports. But the chances of securing a trade deal remain “on a knife edge” as talks continue with “other key issues unresolved”, the newspaper adds.

What are the odds of a deal?

Officials on both sides had wanted the talks to be resolved by Sunday in order to push the resulting deal through the UK and EU’s respective parliaments.

Bu despite the failure to achieve that aim, the British government is maintaining a bullish tone. Foreign Minister James Cleverly told Times Radio this morning that the UK would not “roll over” for the sake of securing a treaty. 

“Yes, time is tight, yes it might go right to the wire and, indeed, it may well be that we don’t get the deal,” he said. “But I think a deal is possible and we’ll keep working towards it until we get it.”

According to bookmakers, a deal is more likely than the UK crashing out of the bloc without one - but only just.

As of early Monday afternoon, William Hill had odds of 8/13 on a deal being signed before the Brexit transition period ends, while SBK had 13/19 and Smarkets had 4/6. The odds for the negotiators failing to come to an agreement were 5/4, 32/21 and 7/5 respectively.

What remains to be agreed?

Despite marking the “final stages of talks”, this week will not necessarily be the make-or-break moment given the various issues still to be resolved, says Sky News’ political editor Beth Rigby.

However, officials in Brussels told Rigby that progress had been made over the weekend towards resolving the disagreements over fishing rights that have continued to hobble the negotiations

No details have been released about the alleged breakthrough as yet, but sources close to the talks have suggested that the UK, which had “already offered a three-year transition period on fishing arrangements”, may have offered “an even longer transition of around five years”, says The Telegraph.

“In return, the EU would have to hand back at least 50% of its fish quotas from January 1 instead of the 18% it is currently offering,” the paper reports. But British sources “stressed late on Sunday night that a final agreement on fishing was yet to emerge”.

Another question mark remains over the “level playing field” (LPF) for business. EU countries were “united on LPF - unlike over fish - meaning Brussels can hold a united front for the rest of the talks”, potentially weakening UK negotiating power, according to Politico’s London Playbook. 

Failure to resolve this sticking point could have catastrophic implications, according to the Daily Mail, which says the negotiations “are on the verge of meltdown today” amid “little sign of a breakthrough” in efforts to break the LPF deadlock.

Even if a future trade agreement is agreed, further hurdles remain.

As The Guardian notes, Boris Johnson “will have to sell the deal to the Brexit hardliners of the European Research Group”. 

ERG deputy chair David Jones yesterday insisted that the group had “huge confidence” in the UK’s chief negotiator David Frost and his team - but described the outstanding sticking points as “an internal matter for the EU” to resolve.

Recommended

Deal or no deal: showdown Brexit talks resuming in Brussels
Brexit trade talks to resume between the European Union and the UK
In Depth

Deal or no deal: showdown Brexit talks resuming in Brussels

Will coronavirus change Boris Johnson’s leadership style?
Boris Johnson
In Depth

Will coronavirus change Boris Johnson’s leadership style?

Europe scrambles to impose Covid-19 restrictions
Residents at a care home in Belgium receive the Covid vaccine
In Focus

Europe scrambles to impose Covid-19 restrictions

‘Vaccine success is on the brink of transforming the lockdown debate’
Boris Johnson watching an NHS first responder getting her vaccination
Instant Opinion

‘Vaccine success is on the brink of transforming the lockdown debate’

Popular articles

How scientists developed a Covid-19 vaccine in record time
A nurse prepares a dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine
In Focus

How scientists developed a Covid-19 vaccine in record time

Stalin-themed kebab shop closes after one day
Tall Tales

Stalin-themed kebab shop closes after one day

Who are the richest people in the world?
Elon Musk
In Focus

Who are the richest people in the world?

Free 6 issue trial then continue to