Here are the comments made by British Prime Minister Theresa May’s de facto deputy to BBC radio.
On Tuesday, David Lidington, a British Cabinet Office Minister who is considered as British Prime Minister Theresa May’s de facto deputy told BBC radio that the United Kingdom and the European Union could potentially clinch a deal in the next 24 to 48 hours.
“We’re not quite there yet,” said Lidington. “We are almost within touching distance now. The PM has said it can’t be a deal at any price.”
when asked on the likelihood of a deal in the next 24 or 48 hours, Lidington stated, “Still possible but not at all definite, I think pretty much sums it up. Cautiously optimistic.”
On Monday, May had said, there were still unresolved issues that needed to be ironed out and that the negotiations were approaching an “endgame”.
With just under 5 months to go before Britain is set to leave the EU, negotiators are focussed on discussions revolving what is known as the Northern Irish backstop – an insurance policy to ensure there will be no return to a hard border in Ireland, if a future trading relationship is not agreed in time.
When asked if the UK could be trapped in a backstop against its will, Lidington replied, “The prime minister has said again and again, if the backstop were ever to be used – we don’t want it to be used – is that it’s clearly got to be something that would be temporary and not indefinite.”
Lidington did not clarify whether the UK would start preparing for a no-deal scenario in the event of a deal not being clinched by the end of Wednesday.
“I’m not going to ascribe days to particular actions. The end of Wednesday is important but what we’ve been doing in government in the two years since the referendum is to take forward contingency planning against all eventualities,” said Lidington. “We both hope and expect a deal will be negotiated at the end of the day.”