UK scraps lawbreaking Brexit clauses in boost to trade deal hopes
Agreement on Northern Ireland will help chances of trade deal, but talks still hang in the balance
London — The UK government will drop controversial clauses that would rip up parts of the Brexit divorce agreement, bringing to an end a dispute that threatened to derail negotiations on a future trade deal.
Talks over the future trading relationship between the UK and the EU remain deadlocked, with an agreement hanging in the balance. But news of a resolution to the three-month row over clauses in the UK Internal Market Bill may help ease the talks on trade.
Michael Gove, one of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's most senior ministers, announced an “agreement in principle on all issues, in particular with regard to the protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland.”
The agreement removes what was a major point of contention between Britain and the EU, with Brussels warning that no wider trade deal would be possible if London went through with its threat to unpick the exit treaty, Reuters reported.
Johnson said he still wanted and hoped for a trade deal but warned the time may be coming to recognise that the negotiations have failed.
Sterling erased most of the day's losses to stand at $1.3367 and also rose sharply against the euro.
EU negotiator Michel Barnier told ministers earlier on Tuesday that the chances of reaching a deal with the UK by the end of the year were “very slim”, Sky News’s Adam Parsons tweeted, citing a person familiar with the talks.
Elsewhere, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron agreed Brexit negotiations should be kept off the agenda of this week’s summit of European Union leaders, a sign the bloc will resist making any significant last-minute concessions to the UK and will stick with Barnier’s mandate.
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