Publishedduration2 hours ago
The UK is in the “last leg of negotiations” with the EU over a post-Brexit trade deal, the foreign secretary has said.
Dominic Raab told the BBC it was likely the talks were entering the “last real major week”, and an agreement remained possible if the EU showed “pragmatism”.
He added that the talks now depended on resolving a “fairly narrow” set of issues, including fishing rights.
Negotiators are racing to reach a deal, with a looming deadline in four weeks.
Face-to-face discussions resumed in London over the weekend, after chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier left self-isolation following a colleague’s positive Covid-19 test last week.
The two sides are trying to strike an agreement to govern their trading relationship after the UK’s post-Brexit transition period ends on 31 December.
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme, Mr Raab said: “We’re down to really two basic issues, but I think in particular the issue around fisheries.
“I do think this is a very significant week, the last real major week, subject to any further postponement of the goalposts in terms of the timing.”
He added that a deal was subject to the EU accepting the “point of principle” that the UK would require “control” over its fishing grounds after the transition.
“If the EU understand that point of principle and we have some pragmatism, we can get there,” he said.
“We ought to be able on both sides to resolve fisheries, if you take the context of the wider economic gains and potential downsides of not having a further deal.”
image captionMichel Barnier has finished self-isolating after a member of his team tested positive for Covid.
Ahead of in-person negotiations resuming on Saturday, Mr Barnier said the “same significant divergences persist” between the two sides.
Negotiators had continued via video-link for the past week or so, after the positive Covid-19 test in a member of the EU negotiating team.
Alongside fishing, the Frenchman has for a while said post-Brexit competition rules and how any deal would be enforced remain the most difficult areas.
The two sides are continuing to haggle over how much access European fishing boats should have to British waters, and how much they would be allowed to catch from next year.
They are also at odds over how closely the UK should have to follow the