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UK says Brexit trade deal can be reached, but not at any cost

LONDON: Britain and the European Union can clinch a Brexit trade deal and the shape of one is clear, but London will not sign up to an accord at any cost, Britain’s finance minister said on Thursday.

With just five weeks left until the UK finally exits the EU’s orbit, both sides are trying to reach a trade deal that would avoid a tumultuous finale to the five-year Brexit crisis.

“With a constructive attitude and goodwill on all sides we can get there,” Finance Minister Rishi Sunak told Sky.

“It’s clear what the shape of the deal looks like.”

Sunak also told LBC radio that while it was preferable to clinch a deal, “we absolutely should not be stretching for a deal at any cost, that is not the right thing to do”.

European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday the EU was ready for the possibility of Britain leaving it without a new trade accord despite “genuine progress” in the tortuous Brexit talks.

An official involved in the negotiations said a deal was possible, but not likely before the weekend at the earliest. An EU diplomat said it was more likely to come next week.

The European Commission – where Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier is leading talks with Britain on behalf of the whole bloc – is due to update national envoys to Brussels on the latest in the trade talks at 8am on Friday.

EU sources said Barnier himself may travel to London later on for more discussions with his British counterpart, David Frost, if there is a chance for a breakthrough.

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