Brexit trade deal odds slip to 55% as UK and EU miss another deadline

The chance of the UK and EU reaching a Brexit trade deal by the end of the year has fallen to 55%, according to betting market Smarkets.

According to current betting, there is a 55% chance that a deal will be done this year, down from 80% on 15 December.

Talks are expected to continue on 21 December, missing a deadline of 20 December set by the European Parliament for the two sides to reach agreement.

Smarkets political analyst, Patrick Flynn, said: “The UK and EU missed yet another deadline last night, making a no deal Brexit now increasingly likely. Consequently, the chance of a 2020 trade deal on our market has fallen to 55%, which is down from a high of 84% just a week ago.

“With this deadline being missed, MEPs will not have time to approve any agreement that is struck this year, so it is unclear whether EU negotiators will want to agree to a deal — even if only a provisional one — without explicit support from the European Parliament.”

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On 20 December, UK health minister Matt Hancock called on the EU to drop “unreasonable” demands in the talks.

“We want these talks to reach a positive conclusion, of course I want a deal, I think everybody wants a deal,” Hancock told Sky News. “Unfortunately, the EU have put in some unreasonable demands.

“I am sure a deal can be done but obviously it needs movement on the EU side.”

The Brexit transition period ends on 31 December, meaning the UK could exit from its EU trading relationships at the end of the year without a deal in place.

There are fears a no-deal Brexit could compound the already serious crisis the UK faces as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.

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Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon called for the Brexit transition period to be extended to prevent the risk of a no-deal Brexit while the UK was being hit by Covid-19 and isolated by travel bans as a new strain of the virus spreads.

“It’s now imperative that (the) PM seeks an agreement to extend the Brexit transition period. The new Covid strain – and the various implications of it – means we face a profoundly serious situation, and it demands our 100% attention,” she tweeted.

“It would be unconscionable to compound it with Brexit.”

“There have been calls from some quarters to extend the transition period beyond the 31 December deadline to avoid chaos at the border on 1 January, which could be compounded by the fact that many EU countries have closed their borders to the UK this weekend after Boris Johnson’s alarming update on the state of coronavirus domestically,” Smarkets’ Flynn said.

“The chance of the transition period being extended sits at just 29% on our market, meaning the possibility remains unlikely, but this is up from just 17% on Friday.”

To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email James Booth

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