Britain’s Brexit negotiator sees mid-October as target date for deal

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Barnier increases pressure on UK over Brexit backstop

The Brexit talks between London and Brussels may not meet their self-imposed October deadline for a divorce deal, Britain's Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab has said.

The EU's chief negotiator, who has been strident on the issue during the behind-the-scenes negotiations, made public his request for the information as he warned he needed an agreement on Northern Ireland and other outstanding withdrawal issues "by November at the latest". "It's essential to conclude negotiations because as I've said, without a backstop, there can be no agreement".

At a press conference in Brussels, Mr Raab said "valuable progress" had been made in the negotiations, and that both sides were edging towards an agreement.

"An agreement (on trade) by the year-end is more likely than not and more encouraging Brexit headlines could see leveraged funds further bail on their recently built short sterling positions", ING strategists said in a note. "It's as simple as that".

Raab said he is "confident, if not more confident", they would reach a deal by then, although he declined to give the odds.

The EU and UK's chief Brexit negotiators vowed on Tuesday (21 August) to step up talks in the coming weeks in a bid to avoid the United Kingdom crashing out of the bloc without agreement next March.

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Mr Barnier has asked Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab to provide technical data on how checks and controls along the Irish Sea might work in the event of the backstop coming into play.

That goes specifically for the sensitive issue of the EU-U.K. land border between Ireland and British-ruled Northern Ireland, where the European Union wants a "backstop" solution in case of no deal, which includes terms that are anathema to London.

In fact, according to Viraj Patel, Foreign Exchange Strategist at ING, most analysts thought such a close deal was unlikely to be possible, saying: "This is something that most hadn't thought was possible and may trigger a partial reassessment of no-deal Brexit risks that lends support to a politically-infested pound".

"I'm a negotiator, not a gambler", he said.

In terms of the prickly issue of the Irish border, Barnier sent out a clear warning to the UK. He added: "On the 3,000 geographical indications of the 28 countries of the European Union, once again I express my concern".

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