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Brexit: Barnier to remain in London until Wednesday as ministers see possibility of a deal in sight

Kate Devlin
·2-min read
European Union chief Brexit chief negotiator Michel Barnier walks from his hotel to a negotiation in Westminster  (EPA)
European Union chief Brexit chief negotiator Michel Barnier walks from his hotel to a negotiation in Westminster (EPA)

The European Union’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier is to stay in London until Wednesday as ministers believe the possibility of a post-Brexit trade deal is in sight.

With just weeks to go before the end of the Brexit transition period, Britain is facing the prospect of a damaging ‘no-deal’ scenario unless an agreement is struck soon.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis described the fact that intense talks will continue as a "very good sign".

Mr Lewis told BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show: “The fact that Michel Barnier has outlined in the last week or so that they are going to come back and do these intensive negotiations, he recognises the EU do need to move, and that he is staying through to next week, is … a very good sign.”

He added that the UK had to "make sure that it is a deal that works not just for our partners in Europe - we want to have a very good relationship with them obviously - but one that works for the United Kingdom.

"I think there is a good chance that we can get a deal. But I think it is for the EU to understand that it is for them to move as well."

No 10 sources later confirmed that Mr Barnier will remain in the UK until Wednesday.

Mr Barnier and his team arrived in London on Thursday evening and have been taking part in talks with their UK counterparts since Friday

Officials believe the negotiations could enter the crunch ‘tunnel’ this week.

It is understood fishing is likely to be the largest stumbling block in the talks.

On Friday MPs were warned the two sides were still far apart on the issue.

Mr Lewis also played down suggestions that relations with the US could be damaged if Joe Biden, who has expressed his own concerns over Brexit, becomes the next American president.

"We have always worked very closely with whoever is the president of the USA. We as a country have a long, special relationship to build on, on a wide range of issues across history,” Mr Lewis said.

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