With a matter of weeks before the UK and EU need to sign off on the final Brexit agreement, Barnier has claimed a deal could be struck within six weeks.
The news comes a week after Barnier told numerous Tory MPs that the existing Chequers plan is ‘unworkable’ and would have to be removed before a proper agreement could be reached.
Barnier told a forum in Slovenia it is “realistic” to expect a divorce deal with Britain in six to eight weeks – suggesting the divorce could be settled by the week beginning October 15 – just in time for the EU Summit on October 18.
The EU chief negotiator said: “I think that if we are realistic we are able to reach an agreement on the first stage of the negotiation, which is the Brexit treaty, within 6 or 8 weeks.
“Taking into account the time necessary for the ratification process, the House of Commons on one side, the European Parliament and the Council on the other side … we must reach an agreement before the beginning of November. I think it is possible.”
Sterling jumped to a five-week high of $1.3052 on the report of Mr Barnier’s comments, up around 1 percent on the day, and rose around 0.5 percent against the euro.
Viraj Patel, a currency strategist at ING in London, said: “It just shows that’s the key thing that people want to see – Brexit progress.
“You have a market that’s heavily short on sterling due to Brexit. It needs that tail risk to be taken off before sterling can rally.”