EU sees Brexit progress; UK, not so much

EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier says he sees signs of movement on a deal.

In a Tweet Thursday (December 17) he said negotiations were in the final stretch, with ‘good progress’ towards an agreement.

But UK officials don’t seem so optimistic.

One told Reuters that the two sides were still ‘very far apart in key areas’.

That probably includes fishing.

EU sources say disagreements remain there, with many other more minor issues still in need of ‘polishing’.

Speaking in parliament on Thursday, UK Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said London wasn’t giving up yet:

"Intensive talks are ongoing with both negotiating teams working day and night to reach a deal. We're going the extra mile to continue the negotiations to see whether an agreement can be reached and we will of course continue to keep Parliament informed on our progress.”

Time is now very tight.

The European Parliament says it could hold an emergency session in late December, if a deal comes together by Monday (December 21).

If an agreement comes later, EU diplomats say the bloc might put it in place from January 1st without lawmakers’ consent.

It all leaves UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson with a very big decision to make.

"There is every opportunity, every hope that I have, that our friends and partners across the channel will will see sense and and and do a deal."

Very soon now, he will have to opt for the narrow deal on offer from the EU…

Or walk away and risk the economic turmoil that many think will be triggered by a no-deal exit.