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Irish See ‘Good Chance’ of Brexit Trade Deal Before Year End

Irish See ‘Good Chance’ of Brexit Trade Deal Before Year End

Ireland Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney says he sees a “good chance” of a trade deal between the European Union and the U.K. before the end of the year.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said he saw a “good chance” of a trade deal between the European Union and the U.K., striking his most upbeat note over the prospects for an accord since a controversy erupted over Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan to to re-write the Brexit withdrawal agreement.

“The obstacles are not insurmountable” to an agreement before the end of the year, Coveney said in an interview with Bloomberg Television on Tuesday. “Not agreeing a trade deal would be an enormous failure. The stakes are very high here.”

Coveney said a trade deal would largely mean the most contentious elements of Johnson’s Internal Market Bill would “fade away,” and compromises could be found. The bill had been seen as an attempt by the U.K. to get better terms from the EU by threatening the status of Northern Ireland. Without a deal, the U.K. will crash out of the bloc’s single market and customs union on Dec. 31, saddling businesses and consumers with additional costs and disruption.

One crucial factor in deciding the fate of the bill will be the state of play in the Brexit trade talks, people with knowledge of both the government and opposition suggested.

Some lawmakers on both sides expect Johnson to drop the most contentious parts of the bill on Northern Ireland if he strikes a trade deal with the EU before the legislation is due to be debated in the Lords. That’s because a trade deal would mean those clauses would no longer be needed.

— With assistance by Kitty Donaldson, and Tim Ross