LONDON (Reuters) – A deal on the future relationship between Britain and the European Union is within reach, Brexit Minister Dominic Raab said on Wednesday, although he confirmed London would withhold any financial settlement in a “no deal” scenario.
Recent signals from Brussels have pointed to renewed confidence that Britain and the EU can agree a deal to govern trading relations after Brexit, sending the pound up sharply against other currencies over the past couple of weeks.
Still, with the March 29 exit date nearing, the divorce agreement has yet to be finalised and the possibility remains of a “no deal Brexit” – which most economists think would hurt the British economy.
“If the EU matches our ambition and pragmatism, a deal is within reach,” Raab wrote in an opinion piece published by the Daily Telegraph, echoing recent language from chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier.
Raab also said a no-deal Brexit would cause some short-term disruption but that there would be “countervailing opportunities” for Britain.
“And the government would not pay the terms of the financial settlement, as agreed with the EU as part of the Withdrawal Agreement. There’s no deal without the whole deal,” Raab said.
As part of a Brexit transition deal, Britain has agreed to pay the EU between 35 and 39 billion euros over the coming decades.
Earlier on Wednesday, Prime Minister Theresa May said that “position changes” in the event of no deal.
Sterling <GBP=> showed little reaction to Raab’s comments.
(Reporting by Andy Bruce; Editing by Peter Cooney)