Pound rises as Raab says a Brexit deal is ‘within sight’

BRITAIN and the European Union are nearing a Brexit deal, both sides suggested yesterday — but they may still miss an October deadline.

The pound rose one per cent to hit a three-week high after chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier promised Britain ‘a partnership such as there never has been’.

And Brexit secretary Dominic Raab (pictured) said he was ‘confident a deal is within our sights’ but it may ‘creep beyond’ October, he told a House of Lords hearing.

Traders appeared buoyed by Mr Barnier’s comments in Berlin. Craig Erlam, at foreign exchange firm Oanda, said they suggest ‘the EU is ready to soften its opposition on certain issues in order to speed up negotiations’.

But Labour MP Stephen Doughty, who backs a campaign for a second Brexit referendum, claimed Mr Barnier had ‘essentially said nothing new’.

Jayne Adye, of the pro-Brexit Get Britain Out group, said: ‘Talk of an incredibly close partnership is worrying, it is not what the majority of Brits voted for in the EU referendum.’

David Lidington, Theresa May’s de facto deputy, told French business leaders the EU must choose between her Chequers plan or no deal.

‘The alternative models do not meet the level of ambition or the outcome we all want to see delivered,’ he said.

■ HIGHWAYS England has confirmed plans that could see 13 miles of the M20 lined with portable toilets if there’s a no-deal Brexit. Chief executive Jim O’Sullivan said the preparations were part of Operation Stack, which manages traffic during disruption to Eurotunnel or ferry services. He told Radio 5 Live his job was to be ready in case of Brexit disruption. ‘So we are preparing for that and those 13 miles of Portaloos will be there if needed.’