An EU diplomat has said a Brexit deal is “pretty much there” and could be announced as early as Thursday.
Three diplomatic sources told Reuters that preparations for a deal have been stepped up.
Reuters reported that national diplomats have been told to prepare for a meeting as early as Thursday should a deal be struck today.
One EU diplomat told Reuters: “It seems the deal is pretty much there. It’s a matter of announcing it today or tomorrow.”
This echoes comments by the Sun‘s chief political correspondent, Harry Cole.
Cole said on Wednesday: “British and EU negotiators are hoping to shake on the 2,000 page accord this afternoon or tomorrow morning – but progress is being held up by a row about electric cars.”
One British source told the Sun: “No white smoke just yet but they turned up with matches today.”
Negotiations had stalled over the issue of fisheries and the so-called level playing field provision but that impasse seems to have passed.
On Tuesday, chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier told MEPs talks reached a “crucial moment”.
Cabinet minister Robert Jenrick said he was “reasonably optimistic” that a late deal will be agreed before the current trading arrangements expire at the end of the month.
Jenrick told Sky News “serious areas of disagreement” remain on fishing and the “level playing field” measures aimed at preventing unfair competition on standards and state subsidies.
“We are working through those issues, our negotiators will keep going – the prime minister has been very clear that he is going to negotiate until the very end, which is December 31, because that is the right thing, it is what the British public would expect.
“But at the moment there isn’t sufficient progress, it isn’t a deal that the prime minister feels he can sign us up to because it doesn’t yet respect us, in full, as a sovereign, independent nation.”