Brexit talks: "given the progress that has been made there should be a deal," says Micheál Martin

The United Kingdom and the European Union have still not clinched a Brexit trade deal to avoid a turbulent split in just eight days time because of serious disagreements about competition and fishing, British Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick told Sky News on Wednesday.

“I’m still reasonably optimistic but there’s no news to report to you this morning,” he said.

“There’s still the same serious areas of disagreement whether that’s on fisheries or the level playing field, but at the moment there isn’t sufficient progress. It isn’t a deal that the prime minister feels he can sign us up to.”

Jenrick echoed what EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said on Tuesday in Brussels. The UK’s latest offer on sharing out the fish catch from British waters from 2021 was “totally unacceptable”, according to EU diplomats who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin however was slightly more optimistic: “The gap is still wide on fish. 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. 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.”

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