Brexit talks may not meet Oct deadline: official

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London, Aug 30 (IANS) 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.

He told a parliamentary committee that October remains the goal but there was a “possibility it may creep beyond that”, Xinhua news agency reported on Thursday.

Britain and the European Union (EU) aim to hammer out an agreement on divorce terms and future trade by a European Council summit in October so that it can be approved by individual EU countries before the UK leaves the bloc on March 29, 2019.

But talks have stalled amid divisions within Britain’s Conservative government over how close an economic relationship to seek with the EU, and the UK has ramped up planning for a disruptive “no deal” Brexit.

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A divorce agreement, hammered out by British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government in July, proposed to keep the UK close to EU regulations in return for free trade in goods.

The proposal, known as the Chequers plan, was intended to keep Britain within a single market for goods within the EU while excluding services and other free movement obligations.

It was rejected by Michel Barnier, EU’s chief negotiator.

EU leaders claim that Britain wants to “cherry pick” aspects of membership in the bloc without the full cost and responsibilities.

Raab said Britain and the bloc were 80 per cent of the way to a withdrawal deal and urged the EU to show “pragmatism” in the negotiations.

“I’m confident that a deal is within our sights,” the British official added.

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–IANS

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