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And the Foreign Secretary refused to name a deadline by which an agreement must be settled – merely stating the two sides were now “in the final week or so” of negotiations. Pressed on the issue by Sky News’ Sophy Ridge, Mr Raab said: “I am bit reticent to give an ultimate backstop because I think the goalposts sometimes shift on the EU side.
“But I think we are into the last week or so of substantive negotiations.
“To be honest with you the EU do shift the goalposts.
“But we, as we have done right the way through, are there, our negotiating team led by Lord Frost has done a great job and we are always there with positive ideas and positive energy to see if we can get the deal over the line.”
Mr Raab was similarly reluctant to say whether he rated the chance of a deal at better than 50/50.
He added: “I’ve avoided the percentage and betting forecasting throughout this but I do think that we are in a reasonable position – there is a deal to be done.
“If you look at what the outstanding issues are of course, of course, level playing field but it feels like there is progress towards respect for what the UK position is.
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“On fisheries, there is a point of principle – as we leave the transition, we are going to be an independent coastal state.
“We have got to be able to control our waters.
“We can talk about transitions and things like that and we recognise the impact it has on other countries around Europe but that principle comes with sovereignty, comes with leaving not just the EU but the transition period.
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“And I think the answer is can the EU accept that kind of principle which comes with us leaving the political club.”
Boris Johnson this week rejected an offer by Michel Barnier to allow the UK to retain 15 to 18 percent of the bloc’s fish stocks after the end of the year.
Asked whether the talks could collapse over the issue of fishing, Mr Raab was non-committal – but added: “I think it is important that the EU understands the principle.
“If they show the pragmatism, the goodwill and the faith that I think in fairness has surrounded the last leg of the talks, and certainly we have shown more flexibility, I think there is a deal to be done.
“I think the level playing field is something where we accept some of the principles and we have also got the precendents in some of the other deals.
“All we are saying is we have to adopt the same precedents the EU has with other countries.”
Striking a cautiously optimistic tone, he said: “I think there is a landing zone if the EU is as reasonable as the UK has been.
“At the end of the day, it requires both sides to flexible and a little bit pragmatic.
“I do think the economic two-way advantage of getting this over the line ought to focus minds in the last few days.”
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