Optimism is growing that a UK-EU trade deal could yet be signed by the end of the year and could even be announced before Christmas.
The FT has since reported positive soundings from officials on both sides about the talks, leading to a rise in value for the pound.
UK officials told the FT today (23 December) that a deal could even be “wrapped up within hours”, either this evening or tomorrow morning.
However, while lead EU negotiator Michel Barnier yesterday said “significant progress” has been made, he also admitted that talks could yet drag on till after Christmas, according to Politico.
Thursday morning is the latest deadline given by EU diplomats for a deal to be agreed and ratified by the end of the year, when the current transition period finishes.
Barnier said the EU must be prepared to continue talks beyond 1 January if necessary and stressed the bloc will not be the one to leave the negotiating table.
Johnson and von der Leyen take on fish
The major remaining obstacle to a deal has been an agreement on fisheries, with the Guardian reporting that Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen are holding secret and frequent talks on the matter.
A senior UK official told the Sun: “There is a deal on the table now and both sides want to be home for Christmas Eve, but things are strained”.
Despite this, the EU yesterday rejected a UK offer on fisheries according to Bloomberg, though this included concessions from the UK that have potentially paved the way for a deal to be concluded.