No-deal Brexit Fears Rise as Johnson Heads for Last Supper in Brussels
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson heads to Brussels on Wednesday for dinner with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in a last ditch attempt to avoid a tumultuous Brexit without a trade deal in three weeks’ time.With growing fears of a chaotic no-deal finale to the five-year Brexit crisis when the United Kingdom finally leaves the EU’s orbit on Dec. 31, the dinner is being cast as a chance to unlock the stalled trade talks.A British government source stressed that a deal may not be possible, as did EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier. Ireland also signalled it was pessimistic about a deal.”The EU has to move,” Michael Gove, a senior minister in Johnson’s government dealing with Brexit issues, told Times Radio.While Gove refused to give odds on a deal, he said that often a one-on-one meeting between leaders could result in a breakthrough.”It is often around the table, when you have two political principals one-on-one, that you can often find a way through,” Gove told the BBC.Failure to secure a deal would snarl borders, shock financial markets and sow chaos through supply chains across Europe and beyond as the world faces the vast economic cost of the COVID-19 pandemic.The British pound was flat against the dollar at around 1.3369, after three straight days of losses. It stands around 1% off 2-1/2 year highs hit at the end of last week. Overnight implied volatility — a measure of expected price swings — rose to a new 8-1/2 month high of close to 25%.