The chance of a no-deal Brexit is “50-50”, Latvia’s foreign minister said as he prepared to meet Jeremy Hunt.
Edgars Rinkēvičs said there was a “very considerable risk” of the UK leaving the EU in March without any new agreement, although he insisted he was still optimistic that the bloc could secure a deal with Theresa May, whose Chequers plan he said “constitutes a good ground for really trying hard to reach a deal”.
Mr Hunt, the foreign secretary, is on a three-day visit to Latvia, Finland, Denmark and the Netherlands.
Asked about the chances of a no-deal scenario, Mr Rinkēvičs told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Frankly at this point, I would rate it 50-50 . . . If that were to be, let’s say, 70-30 that we get a deal, I would be very satisfied. But of course, from our point of view, as you know, the EU is united at 27.
“We also are satisfied to see that there is a more detailed position of the British government, that constitutes a good ground for really trying hard to reach a deal. So having said 50-50, I would say I’m remaining optimistic.”
Mr Rinkēvičs said that Latvia was “satisfied” with the preliminary agreement reached between the UK and the EU in relation to the rights of EU nationals.
He said: “I think that we are at a very critical point . . . I believe that both the EU and UK need to have extra effort to reach some kind of deal by October because I believe that it is in the best interests of both the UK and EU.
“However, I also think that only now the British public, the British government understand how complex, how difficult this kind of Brexit is. It is very difficult also to build the future relationship, but Latvia is very interested in having a deal, not only when it comes to trade, but also security, co-ordination of foreign and defence policy between the UK and EU.”