The Brexit talks continued throughout the night as hopes were raised that a trade deal might finally be close to being reached.
Sources in London and Brussels told Sky News on Wednesday evening that an agreement could be reached.
Eric Mamer, the main spokesperson for the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, tweeted: “The Brexit work would continue all night.”
He added: “At this point, all Brexit observers are advised to get some sleep.
“Hopefully it will be an early start tomorrow morning.”
A late evening delivery of pizzas used to be made at the European Commission’s headquarters in Brussels.
Meanwhile, Sky News has learned that a call was made to Boris Johnson’s cabinet yesterday evening to update them on the state of play.
The UK left the EU in late January and entered an 11-month transition period under EU rules while attempting to negotiate a free trade agreement by the end of this year.
The #brexit work will continue all night. At this point, all Brexit watchers are advised to get some sleep. Hopefully it will be an early start tomorrow morning …
– Eric Mamer (@MamerEric) December 24, 2020
However, some sticking points emerged during the negotiations that increase the prospect of a no-deal Brexit.
These include fishing rights and the so-called “level playing field” – measures to prevent what is considered to be unfair competition by lowering standards or using state subsidies.
The Prime Minister has acknowledged that a no-deal Brexit “can be difficult at first,” but has claimed that if it did happen, Britain would “thrive” in such a scenario.
Opponents say, however, that leaving without a deal, and consequently trading on World Trade Organization terms from January 1, would create problems for businesses and drive prices up for consumers.
Both sides had set a deadline of mid-October for reaching a trade agreement with the expectation that it would then take some time before the final version was examined and voted on.
Parliament has to ratify an agreement when one is agreed, but it broke up by Christmas.
However, Sky News was told that MPs could be removed on Dec. 30 to approve a last-minute deal.
A senior EU diplomat told Reuters news agency on Wednesday that a preliminary application for an agreement would have to be approved by member states as the EU Parliament did not have enough time to ratify an agreement.