Britain and EU say work remains to be done to reach Brexit deal

LONDON/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Britain and the European Union said on Sunday a lot more work would be needed to secure an agreement on Britain’s departure form the bloc.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told his cabinet a last-minute deal was still possible as the two sides pressed on with intensive talks to try to avoid a disorderly Brexit on Oct. 31, the date set for Britain’s departure.

“The Prime Minister said there was a way forward for a deal that could secure all our interests … but that there is still a significant amount of work to get there and we must remain prepared to leave (without a deal) on October 31,” a spokeswoman from Johnson’s office said.

Britain said the latest talks had been “constructive” and there would be more talks on Monday.

Johnson hopes a deal will be agreed in time for EU leaders to approve it at a summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday. But he would still have to convince a deeply divided British parliament to ratify the agreement, probably at a rare Saturday session on Oct. 19.

If he succeeded, the world’s fifth largest economy would split from its biggest trading partner with arrangements in place to minimise disruption at borders and preserve the complex supply chains that underpin the economy.

If he failed, lawmakers would begin a battle to delay Brexit that could end up being decided in the courts. Johnson has said he would do his utmost to pull Britain out on Oct.31, even without a deal – a move he believes would boost his hopes of political survival.

“A lot of work remains to be done,” the European Commission, the EU’s executive, said in a statement on Sunday evening.

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