James O’Brien has said an EU trade deal was inevitable and stated the reasons why in his final Brexit prediction of the year.
Ahead of Michael Barnier updating EU ambassadors on the state of negotiations, O’Brien said he was confident a deal was in the works.
“I can’t see it not happening, I can’t see there not being a deal now,” he said as he set out his reasoning.
He forecasted the UK and EU announcing a Brexit deal, possibly before Christmas, and that it would involve “quite serious concessions from Boris Johnson on the publicly-stated desire with regard to fish”.
He said an agreement on fish would be “sufficiently complicated” and see the EU commit to decreasing its catch over a certain number of years.
O’Brien said many die-hard Brexiteers “won’t be happy” about the deal, but added: “They will never be happy.”
He also said it felt “unjust” that after nearly 50 years of membership, Britain would soon be treated like a country that had never been a member.
Making the analogy of gym membership, O’Brien said it was like if you decided to leave the gym, it did not matter how long you had been a member, if they find you in the shower they would call the police.
O’Brien said a final deal would be “the opposite” of what Johnson had promised to do.
“If you’re still wearing your Boris Johnson scarf, you may end up cheering the polar opposite you of what you voted for,” he said.
This comes as DailyFX reports that the EU’s chief negotiator is set to speak at 3pm (GMT) with an update on talks.
It follows reports overnight on Boris Johnson’s new compromise on fishing arrangements.
According to EU sources, British demand for a 60% reduction in the catch by value in British waters had been reduced to 35% in a “final offer” from Number 10, close to the 25% reduction that Barnier had said he was willing to accept.
The Guardian reports that “Johnson has also accepted a five-year phase-in period for the new arrangements, with a compromise also likely on the application of tariffs or export bans on goods where fishing access changes after the phase-in period”.
Despite the significant shift from Number 10, EU officials speaking to Bloomberg say the bloc is likely to reject the concessions, as member states with large fishing fleets asked by Ursula von der Leyen’s senior team to think over the offer.
The UK leaves the single market and customs union on December 31 and will face tariffs and quotas on trade with the EU unless a deal is reached.