The UK is close to finalising a post-Brexit trade agreement with the European Union, with a final deal expected to be announced today (Thu 24 Dec).
Talks between the UK and the EU continued into Wednesday night (23 Dec), with a deal originally expected to be announced early this morning.
European Commission spokesman, Eric Mamer, tweeted on Wednesday night, “#brexit work will continue throughout the night. Grabbing some sleep is recommended to all brexit-watchers at this point. It will hopefully be an early start tomorrow morning…”
However, certain aspects of the deal are still being discussed between the UK and the EU, with the agreement yet to be finalised.
Final details still being discussed
Final details, especially in regards to fishing quotas, are still being thrashed out, with the issue of fishing being a particular sticking point over recent months.
Simon Coveney, the Irish foreign minister, told RTE this morning that there has been “some sort of last-minute hitch” in agreeing the deal.
Mr Coveney revealed he was expecting Prime Minister Boris Johnson to be holding a news conference earlier this morning, but, he said, “That hasn’t happened. So there is some sort of last-minute hitch.”
The foreign minister explained that this was related to “small text” in regards to a fisheries agreement. However, he said he still expected the formal announcement of a final Brexit deal from both London and Brussels later today.
When does the deal have to be approved by?
Both the UK and the EU have until 31 December - which is when the UK leaves EU trading rules - to have the Brexit deal document approved by parliamentarians.
However, Jill Rutter, a senior research fellow at The UK In A Changing Europe, an initiative for research on UK-EU relations, said that MPs will be left with “virtually no time” to examine the details of a Brexit deal properly before they then have to vote on the legislation.
Ms Rutter said, “Frankly, Parliament doesn’t have much option but to pass this thing.
“The Government knows that it’s basically holding almost a gun to Parliament’s head, because if Parliament doesn’t pass this next week and the UK can’t therefore ratify it, then it’s no-deal on December 31.”