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UK Brexit negotiator tips deal by Nov 21

Britain’s Brexit secretary has indicated to MPs he expects a long-elusive divorce deal with the European Union to be finalised before November 21.

Dominic Raab told the British Parliament’s Exiting the EU Committee in a letter on October 24 that he would be “happy to give evidence to the committee when a deal is finished and currently expect 21 November to be suitable”.

The letter was released by the committee on Wednesday.

Raab’s department later clarified there is no set date for the negotiations to conclude and that November 21 was the date offered by the chair of the select committee for the Secretary of State to give evidence.

Prime Minster Theresa May’s spokesman declined to say whether an EU exit deal was expected by November 21, but said the government was working to get a deal as soon as possible.

Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29, but London and Brussels have not reached an agreement on their divorce terms and a smooth transition to a new relationship.

The stalemate has heightened fears that the UK might leave without a deal in place, leading to chaos at ports and economic turmoil.

Prime Minister Theresa May has said a divorce deal is 95 per cent done, but the two sides still have a gap over the issue of the border between the UK’s Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland.

Britain and the EU agree there must be no barriers that could disrupt businesses and residents on both sides of the border and undermine Northern Ireland’s hard-won peace process.

But each side has rejected the other’s solution.

An October 17-18 EU summit that had been billed as the deadline for a breakthrough ended with talks still deadlocked.

But both Britain and the EU said a deal was still possible, and behind-the-scenes talks have continued since then.

Any agreement reached by the two sides will have to be approved by the British and European parliaments.

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