Britain and the European Union have just hours left to navigate the very narrow path to a trade deal that would prevent the most turbulent finale to the Brexit crisis in less than two weeks’ time, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said on Friday.
As talks go down to the wire, both sides are demanding the other compromise amid a flurry of often conflicting messages that, variously, a deal is possible, a deal is in serious trouble, or that a deal is imminent.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also said Friday that trade talks were "looking difficult" and there was a “gap that needed to be bridged,” but the door for further negotiations remained open.
"Obviously the U.K.’s position is always that we want to keeping talking if there’s any chance of a deal," Johnson told reporters, adding "Our door is open, we’ll keep talking but I have to say things are looking difficult.”
An accord would ensure the goods trade that makes up half of annual EU-U.K. commerce, worth nearly a trillion dollars in all, would remain free of tariffs and quotas beyond Dec. 31.
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