Last-minute fishing hitch delays announcement of Brexit deal – Irish foreign minister

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A last minute hitch related to fishing has delayed the agreement of a British-European Union trade deal, but an announcement is expected later on Thursday, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said on Thursday.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson “had been due to hold a news conference around now. That hasn’t happened. So there is some sort of last-minute hitch” related to “small text” of a fisheries agreement, Coveney told Ireland’s RTE radio.

“I had hoped to be talking to you this morning in parallel with big announcements happening in both London and Brussels, but we still expect those later on today.”

UK shares rose on Thursday as Britain and the European Union inched closer to striking a post-Brexit trade deal, averting a chaotic separation with only seven days left for the transition period to expire.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 rose 0.4% by 0809 GMT with a jump in sterling keeping gains in check.

Brexit-sensitive banks and homebuilders were among the top gainers on the index, with Lloyds Banking Group, Taylor Wimpey and Persimmon rising the most.

The domestically focused FTSE 250 index, considered a proxy to Brexit sentiment, jumped 0.7% to hit a fresh February high.

Sources in London and Brussels said a deal was on the cusp of being struck as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson held a late-night conference call with his Cabinet of senior ministers, and negotiators in Brussels pored over reams of legal trade texts.

UK markets will close early on Thursday and remain closed for Christmas and Boxing Day on Friday and Monday. 

Main Photo: An exterior view of 10 Downing Street in London, Britain, 24 December 2020. Talks between Britain and the EU on a post-Brexit trade agreement continued through the night, nearing a possible deal which is expected to be announced on the day, media reported. EPA-EFE/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA

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