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EU Chief Brexit Negotiator Michel Barnier (R) and Britain's Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab hold a joint press conference at the European Commission in Brussels on August 31, 2018. 

The U.K.’s Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab, told lawmakers Wednesday that he expects the country’s exit deal with the EU to be finalized by November 21.

Sterling surged following the news and was up more than 0.4 percent versus the dollar in afternoon trade Wednesday.

Raab stated the date in a letter to Hilary Benn, the chair of the U.K. Parliament’s Brexit committee. The letter, dated October 24, further stated that “the end is now firmly in sight and, while obstacles remain, it cannot be beyond us to navigate them.”

The U.K.’s main Brexit negotiator added that 95 percent of the U.K.’s withdrawal agreement is now settled, adding that the U.K. the EU had also “made good progress on the structure and scope of the future agreement.”

The sticking point of how to treat the border between Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland, which is a member of the European Union, had previously caused talks to stall.

Raab claimed in his letter that this issue is near to being resolved, for now, as both sides “agree on the principle of a U.K.-wide customs backstop.”

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The backstop would effectively keep the U.K. within European arrangements — such as the customs union and at least some parts of the EU’s single market — should a free trade deal or technological solution to Ireland’s border issue not have been found by the end of the transition period.

The customs union is an agreement that allows partaking countries to set common external tariffs, allowing goods to travel freely between those countries. The single market is a deeper form of co-operation between member states that allows the free movement of goods, services, money and people in the bloc.

On Tuesday, the ratings agency Standard Poor’s warned in a report that the U.K. economy could enter a recession should the country exit the European Union with a so called “Hard Brexit.”


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