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%.