The chance of a no-deal Brexit is “50-50”, Latvia’s foreign minister has warned.
Edgars Rinkevics said there was a “very considerable risk” of a no-deal scenario but stressed he remained optimistic an agreement with Britain on its withdrawal from the European Union could be reached.
He added that the UK Government’s more detailed position laid out in Prime Minister Theresa May’s Chequers plan “constitutes a good ground for really trying hard to reach a deal”.
His comments came as Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt began a three-day visit to woo European politicians to back the Government’s Brexit plan.
He will meet counterparts in Finland, Latvia, Denmark and the Netherlands as the deadline for agreeing a deal grows closer.
On the chances of no deal, Mr Rinkevics told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Frankly at this point, I would rate it 50-50… well, I think that 50-50 is a very considerable risk if that were to be, let’s say, a 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 Rinkevics said his country 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.”
On the threat from Russia, he said: “I think that what we have seen in recent years is that Russia is getting more and more assertive and more and more aggressive, and it’s not only about Ukraine or Moldova or Georgia, now we see that such kind of interference like elections in the US or the poisoning, or so-called Salisbury incident shows that we need to take this so-called hybrid warfare extremely seriously.”
He added he believed there was no direct military threat to the Baltic states but there was a need to be more agile and more prepared.