The U.K. and the European Union may not meet their self-imposed October deadline for a divorce deal, Britain’s Brexit minister said Wednesday.
Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab said October remains the goal, but there is a “possibility it may creep beyond that.” He told a House of Lords committee that the two sides were aiming for October, “but there is some measure of leeway.”
Britain and the EU aim to hammer out an agreement on divorce terms and future trade by a European Council summit in October so that it can be approved by individual EU countries before the U.K. leaves the bloc on March 29.
But talks have stalled amid divisions within Britain’s Conservative government over how close an economic relationship to seek with EU, and the U.K. has ramped up planning for a disruptive “no deal” Brexit.
Raab said Britain and the bloc were 80 percent of the way to a withdrawal deal, and urged the EU to show “pragmatism” in the negotiations. “I’m confident that a deal is within our sights,” he said. CNBC
In the meantime, BBC reports that the Royal College of Nursing said that Brexit poses an “immediate risk to the provision of safe and effective care”. The union has made the warning in a letter to leaders of the UK’s main political parties on behalf of its 435,000 members. It also wants the parties to back a second referendum on any Brexit deal.
A government spokeswoman said plans are in place to ensure patients receive the same standards of care after Brexit.