Barnier says no-deal Brexit is possible despite market optimism

POUND GRAPH

Europe's chief negotiator Michel Barnier and the Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab emerged from six hours of talks in Brussels suggesting it could be possible to "find an agreement for an orderly withdrawal" in time.

"We must have a detailed backstop solution which is legally operational in the Withdrawal Agreement", he said.

A summit of European Union leaders in Salzburg on 20 September is the next key appointment - where British prime minister Theresa May will gauge the mood among the other 27 leaders. "For that, I asked Dominic and his team to provide us with the data necessary for the technical work which we need to do now on the nature, location, and modality of the controls that will be necessary", Barnier said.

For sterling bears finding it increasingly expensive to fund these short bets, some traders said Barnier's comments - indicating a slightly more conciliatory tone rather than a major shift in negotiating stance - were the final straw.

"It's a matter of some urgency".

Michel Barnier is refusing to back down on erecting a border in the Irish Sea to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland, and has publicly asked the British government for data to prove that the checks on goods flowing within the territory of the United Kingdom would be few in number.

"The backstop is critical", he insisted.

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Politicians fear that a return to customs checks and police on the land frontier between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic would revive memories of violence in the past, potentially endangering the peace.

He said: "With no backstop, there will be no agreement".

Mr Raab said that he wanted to continue "accelerating and intensifying" negotiations, adding: "We're committed to resolving the deal by (the October council) and ultimately on my side I am stubbornly optimistic that a deal is within our reach".

But both conceded the biggest issues remain unresolved.

He struck a positive chord with European Union chief negotiator Michel Barnier, who talked up the chances of a deal but remained firm on the Irish border issue.

Michel Barnier has ended a wave of market optimism about the prospects for a deal by delivering a sobering message about the state of negotiations.

Raab said he is "confident, if not more confident", they would reach a deal by then, although he declined to give the odds.

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