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Brexit: Betting odds put UK-EU trade deal by end of 2020 at 85%

Suban Abdulla
·3-min read
European Union and British flag pair on desk over defocused background. Horizontal composition with copy space and selective focus.
The odds of the transition period being extended remain low at 14%, as the time for negotiations ticks on. Photo: Getty

Betting odds have put a Brexit trade agreement between Britain and the European Union by the end of this year at 85%.

According to data from peer-to-peer betting exchange Smarkets, the odds reached an all-time high of 90% on Thursday night before returning to 85% on Friday morning, in what is a fluctuating betting market.

The odds of the transition period being extended beyond January 2021 stayed low at 14%, as the time for negotiations ticks on.

With the issue of the Northern Ireland backstop remaining unsolved — the chance of the Internal Market Bill becoming law in 2020 was rated 20% likely. This means that the government may have to rely on votes from the Labour Party to get the EU deal through parliament.

Head of political markets at Smarkets, Sarbjit Bakhshi, said: "Smarkets customers have put the likelihood of a trade deal this year at 85% in light of last-minute talks between the UK and the EU.

“With the issues of a level playing field, fishing quotas, Northern Ireland, and whether the bill will get Labour support, our market is being traded actively on both sides.

"There is seemingly no hope of a trade deal with the US before the New Year, and with the chance of an extension to the transition period at just 14%, a UK-EU deal is arguably now more important than ever."

Brexit betting odds. Graph: Smarkets
Brexit betting odds. Graph: Smarkets

READ MORE: 'Difficult' Brexit talks continue with chance of a deal 'receding'

It comes after, the two sides have been deadlocked on several issues such as fishing rights and a level playing fields, which have held up negotiations for months.

On Thursday night, a senior Downing Street source told the media that the chance of an agreement was “receding.”

The source blamed the EU for making “eleventh hour” demands around how to enforce so-called level playing field rules when the Brexit transition period ends on 1 January 2021.

“At the eleventh hour, the EU is bringing new elements into the negotiation,” the unnamed source told journalists, according to the Press Association, BBC and the Times.

“A breakthrough is still possible in the next few days, but that prospect is receding.”

Meanwhile, business secretary Alok Sharma said talks continued but were in a “difficult phase.”

“We are committed to reaching an agreement with the EU on this particular discussion that we are having,” Sharma told BBC Breakfast on Friday.

“But, of course, time is short and we are in a difficult phase. There’s no denying that. There are a number of tricky issues that still have to be resolved.”

READ MORE: Brexit: Dominic Raab calls on EU to accept 'point of principle' on fisheries

Over the weekend, Britain’s foreign secretary has urged the European Union to accept a "point of principle" on fisheries — a key sticking point in reaching an agreement.

Dominic Raab told Sky News that Britain’s position as “an independent, coastal state” meant it must be able to control its waters but added that there could be a transition period for an agreement over fishing rights.

The foreign secretary was positive and saying that the country is in a “reasonable position” and there's a “deal to be done,” adding negotiations might soon be “reaching a conclusion.”

But, the progress has been spoilt by reports that France has threatened to veto any agreement if it involves too many concessions from the EU’s side. An unnamed UK government source told the Times the French were “agitating around EU capitals.”

Watch: What is a no-deal Brexit and what are the potential consequences?