EU politician drops hint Brexit deal could happen 'at the end' of December

Leading EU MEP Guy Verhofstadt in Brussels

Leading EU MEP Guy Verhofstadt in Brussels - Credit: Twitter

A prominent MEP has suggested a Brexit trade deal was still possible and could happen "at the end" of December.

Guy Verhofstadt said he was "optimistic" a deal between Britain and the EU could be struck at the last moment.

Verhofstadt told Sky News: "I'm optimistic by nature. It happens always at the end.

"If you give a lot of time to politicians, they will run the whole period and then only make the deal.

"That's my experience of decades in politics."

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The politician's comment comes as the EU parliament set a new deadline of Sunday.

Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, told MEPs on Friday that both sides stood "at the moment of truth".

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Addressing a plenary session in the EU parliament, Barnier said: “We’re not asking more nor less than a balance between rights and obligations and reciprocity, access to our markets and access to our waters and the other way round, no more, no less.

"It’s also obvious that this isn’t an agreement we will sign at any price or any cost.

"I think I’ve always been frank with you and open and sincere. I cannot say what will come during this last home straight of negotiations. We have to be prepared for all eventualities."

The UK government said it was “working around the clock” to secure an agreement.

Schools minister Nick Gibb told Times Radio: “The prime minister says that we are in a very serious situation.

"We will test every route to getting a free trade agreement before the end of the year.

"But we can’t do so at the expense of our sovereignty. We cannot be the only nation in the world that doesn’t have control of its own seas, its own fisheries.

"So, we will work very hard. The government is working around the clock to get a trade deal, but not at the expense of this country’s independence."

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