Chances of a Brexit deal leap to 81% as EU leader flags ‘a path to an agreement’

The likelihood a Brexit deal before the end of 2020 has jumped to 81% as the president of the European Commission said there is a “path” to a solution being found this month.

Ursula von der Leyen told MPs in Brussels on 16 December that “there is a path to an agreement now. The path may be very narrow, but it is there.”

Betting markets on the odds in favour of a deal being found leapt to 81% in the early hours of 16 December, according to online platform Smarkets, and settled around that mark following von der Leyen’s address.

The odds had jumped rapidly upwards from a likelihood of 65% on 15 December. Meanwhile, the chances of the UK’s transition period being extended past 31 December fell to around 19%, having been forecast at 26% a day earlier.

“As things stand, I cannot tell you whether there will be a deal or not… We have found a way forward on most issues but two issues still remain outstanding: the level playing field and fisheries,” von der Leyen said.

She added that fisheries had been the most contentious issue, saying that “in all honesty, it sometimes feels [like] we will not be able to resolve this question”.

“The next days are going to be decisive,” she concluded, as talks between the two sides continue this week.

Both sides of the Channel have told their respective ministers to begin preparations for a no-deal outcome, as negotiating teams failed to make a breakthrough by the preliminary deadline of 14 December.

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Von der Leyen and Prime Minister Boris Johnson have since pledged to go “the extra mile” to make a deal happen in time for the New Year.

“Breaking news that agreements have been reached on various key issues mean that a deal is more likely than at any time in the last month according to our betting market,” said Smarket’s head of political markets Sarbjit Bakhshi.

“Compromises over fishing rights, the level-playing field and agreement on a non-regression mechanism to stop the UK undercutting the EU by lowering standards mean that Ursula von der Leyen believes there is now a ‘path to agreement’.

“With the UK economy already under enormous strain because of the coronavirus pandemic, a deal with the EU looks all the more necessary and will be in the forefront of Boris Johnson’s mind in the next few days.”

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To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email Emily Nicolle

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