Brexit: Trade Deal By Christmas, But Only If The UK Pays Up First

An unnamed European diplomat has told The Sun newspaper that EU leaders would accept £30billion for future commitments. Along with the 18billion offered for the transition period between 2019 and 2021 this would amount to £46billion.

News of the possible deal comes after French President Emmanuel Macron appeared to throw cold water on hopes of a Brexit breakthrough, warning that the UK's divorce bill offer was not even 'halfway' to what the EU wanted.

However, whilst Macron delivered a grim assessment of the standoff, saying Theresa May would have to make more significant concessions for trade negotiations to be able to start in December, last night it emerged that formal talks on a comprehensive free trade deal with the EU could begin as soon as next month.

The EU said it was starting work on its negotiating stance on trade immediately.

Donald Tusk, EU Council president, said he was ready to receive British proposals for a trade deal – despite the fact EU leaders ruled yesterday that there had not yet been 'sufficient progress' on the 'divorce bill'. 

The move came amid growing concern on the Continent about the possibility of a messy split from the UK, the EU's biggest trading partner.

Belgian economy minister Kris Peeters said a no-deal Brexit could cost 1.2million jobs across the EU and have a 'catastrophic' effect on his own country. He said the figures, from an official Belgian study, showed 'how important it is to reach a deal'.

German chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday said she was hopeful of beginning formal trade talks with the UK in December.

Tory MP Michael Fabricant said last night (Oct 20th): 'We always knew the EU would play for time and try and bargain for as much cash as possible … But the EU needs trade too.'

Mr Tusk said 'After Prime Minister May's intervention last night and our discussion about Brexit this morning, my impression is that the reports of the deadlock between the EU and UK have been exaggerated.' But Jean-Claude Juncker remained intransigent, stating that he 'would have used the word deadlock four times, not only three times'.

A deal could be agreed as soon as Christmas, officials suggest, but only if the UK pays £48bn before then.

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