EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has said a deal for the UK’s exit from the European Union could be made by October 2018.

The deadline

If the article 50 is triggered by March 2017, as said by Theresa May, a deal would need to be finalised 18 months later. It was said that although there was a two year withdrawal process, at least five months would be needed for each division of the European Union to prepare the final deal.

Mr Barnier said, “It’s clear that the actual negotiation period will be shorter than two years: the European council must set its guidelines at the beginning, and at the end the agreement must be approved by the council, the parliament and the UK government.

“All in all, there will be less than 18 months. If, as Theresa May has said, we receive notification by the end of March, it is safe to say the negotiations could start a few weeks later and article 50 agreement would have to reached by October 2018.”

The negotations

Mr Barnier said that he wanted to “preserve the unity” between the EU member states and said that negotiations would not start before notification.

Mr Barnier also said that the UK would not be allowed to “cherry pick” which negotiation deals they want to keep. He said, “The single market and its full freedoms, its four freedoms, are indivisible. Cherry picking is not an option.”

This could throw into dispute some of the ideas proposed suggesting that the UK would retain the free movement of goods whilst tightening its immigration laws.

As well as this, Michel Barnier hinted that negotiations on free trade may not be made until after the UK officially left the EU. He said, “It will have to be signed with a third country, and only with a third country. So, legally, these things cannot be done together at the same time”.

He also said that “Being in the European Union comes with rights and benefits.

Third countries can never have the same rights and benefits since they are not subject to the same obligations.”

The future of Brexit

Mr Barnier was open to offering the UK a transitional deal saying it may not be possible to reach a final deal within 18 months. A transitional deal could mean the UK retains the benefits of a single market for some years after Brexit to reduce the impact of the decision on businesses.

He also said that he thought it was a mistake that the UK were leaving the European Union.