Justice Minister Robert Buckland said on Thursday that a Brexit trade deal can be reached with the EU, adding that the UK will assure any new administration in the US that the Northern Ireland peace agreement will be protected.

There is still more work to be done, Robert Buckland told Sky News, but both sides are moving very swiftly “to carry on the detail of negotiations.”

We have to prepare for all contingencies, I remain cautiously optimistic with the hard work that is being done that we will reach an agreement.

Buckland is also confident that a hard border can be avoided in Ireland, referring to the issue of “a key concern” for US Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. “If we have a hard border in Ireland and Joe Biden is president, then we aren’t going to get a trade deal with America,” Buckland warned.

Britain wants to assure any new administration in Washington that London will protect the Northern Ireland peace agreement in trade negotiations with the EU.

Biden tweeted in September that the Good Friday Agreement, which brought peace to Northern Ireland in 1998, should not be allowed to become a casualty of Brexit. “Any trade deal between the US and UK must be contingent upon respect for the Agreement and preventing the return of a hard border.”

EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said earlier this week that “very serious divergences” remain as talks with Britain continue. His counterpart, David Frost insisted that London wants to “find solutions that fully respect UK sovereignty.”

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