Government still confident Brexit deal can be reached in September

The Government is still confident that a Brexit deal with the EU can be reached in September, a No 10 spokesman has said.

Ahead of the latest round of negotiations in Brussels this week, the spokesman said the Government “will continue to plug the gaps where any differences remain”.

It comes amid fears of a deadlock between the UK and the EU, with both sides admitting after the last talks in London in July that they still remain some way off reaching a post-Brexit trade agreement.

Looking ahead to the next trade negotiations which begin on Tuesday, the No 10 spokesman said: “There are many issues that will be discussed during this week’s round, not least level playing field, fisheries, trading goods and services amongst others.”

After last month’s talks, the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said a deal looked “at this point unlikely” given the UK position on fishing rights and post-Brexit competition rules.

Mr Barnier said the UK had not shown a “willingness to break the deadlock” on these issues.

He added that there was a risk of no deal being achieved unless the UK changed its course on these topics which are “at the heart” of the EU’s trade interests, and that an agreement would be needed by October “at the latest” so that it could be ratified before the current post-Brexit transition period ends in December.

His UK counterpart David Frost agreed that “considerable gaps” remained in these areas, but argued that a deal was still possible.

The UK has ruled out extending the December deadline to reach a deal.