Great Britain

Brexit news – live: Ireland predicts deal in weeks, as government told migrants deaths must be 'wake-up call'

Ireland’s foreign minister, Simon Coveney, has said that a Brexit deal will be likely in the next two weeks but warned that “it won’t be easy”.

The president of the European Council has meanwhile insisted that negotiations are at their most difficult stage. Charles Michel, who chairs summits of EU leaders in Brussels, said: "Will we get a deal? I don't know – it will depend on what will be on the table."

Separately, charity bosses have said that the deaths of two children and two adults in the Channel migrant boat tragedy should serve as a "wake-up call" for UK and French leaders.

Follow the latest updates below:

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‘We want the governments of the four nations to come together’

Sir Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrats leader, has called for four-nation Covid planning in relation to Christmas, warning people face confusion and complexity over potential restrictions.

Suggesting a four-nation summit, he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "People had been looking forward to Christmas and I think they're increasingly worried they won't be able to be with many of their families and friends at Christmas as normal.

"So we want the governments of the four nations to come together, to look ahead, to get ahead of the game and plan measures so that we can maximise the chances of Christmas being as near normal as possible and it means they've got to take steps now together and if they do then maybe Christmas won't be cancelled.

He added: "We need to see a much greater co-ordination on, for example, what the rules for gatherings might be, what public transport arrangements may be, whether they've got to be expanded, for example, how the policy of getting students back to families will be.

"I think if they don't come together there's a danger that we'll see confusion, we'll see complexity and people won't get a clear message."

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Migrant deaths should serve as a ‘wake-up call’, charity bosses say

The deaths of two children and two adults in the Channel migrant boat tragedy should serve as a "wake-up call" for UK and French leaders, charity bosses said.

A five-year-old, an eight-year-old and two adults died after the vessel sunk off the coast of Dunkirk on Tuesday, French authorities said.

More than a dozen people were taken to hospital and searches have been carried out for any others caught up in the tragedy.

It is believed to be the single biggest loss of life during the current migrant crisis, and brings the total number of deaths since 2018 to 10.

Clare Moseley, who founded the refugee crisis charity Care4Calais, called for the incident to be a "wake-up call" for those in power in the UK and France.

She said: "We are grieving for the victims, we stand in sympathy and solidarity with their families and friends.

"It is cruel and horrifying that, this time, young children are among the victims.

She added: "We have to provide a safe and legal process by which refugees can have their UK asylum claims heard, that's the way to put an end to terrifying, dangerous sea crossings and stop tragedy striking again."

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Brexit deal possible within two weeks, says Ireland minister

Ireland’s foreign minister, Simon Coveney, has said that a Brexit deal will be likely in the next two weeks but warned that “it won’t be easy”.

"We're likely to get a deal, but it won't be easy," Mr Coveney told an Irish Farmers Journal webinar. "If there's no trade deal it'll be on the basis of WTO standards.

"If there is a trade deal, that will avoid tariffs and quotas but we will still unfortunately have a lot of disruption to trade. This is a new reality – we wish it wasn't happening, but it is."

The president of the European Council has meanwhile insisted that negotiations are at their most difficult stage. Charles Michel, who chairs summits of EU leaders in Brussels, said: "Will we get a deal? I don't know – it will depend on what will be on the table."

Mr Michel said the issue of fishing was proving a sticking point between the two parties.

"You know what are the most difficult topics, and we are working to try to find solutions on the most difficult topics," he added. "It's not possible for me to assess what will happen in the next days or in the next two weeks."

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Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s rolling politics blog. We’ll be bringing you coverage from Westminster and beyond throughout the day - stay tuned!

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