October 16, 2018 / 5:24 PM / a month ago

Barnier sees December "ultimate deadline" for Brexit deal - source

European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier attends an EU General Affairs Council in Luxembourg, October 16, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman

LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) - EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier told ministers from member states on Tuesday that December was the latest that a Brexit deal could be struck if a treaty was to be ready by the time Britain leaves the bloc in March, an EU source said.

Asked to say how late a deal could be struck before a “no deal” scenario would follow, a person familiar with the meeting told Reuters that Barnier calculated backwards from Britain’s March 29 exit date and suggested December was the “ultimate deadline”.

While hopes of a deal at a summit on Wednesday were thwarted when talks deadlocked over the Irish border issue on Sunday, Barnier hoped that progress could be made especially next month so that the British and EU parliaments would have time to ratify any agreement before Brexit actually happened.

Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; Writing by Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Gareth Jones

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