Negotiations are ongoing over Brexit trade talks with Boris Johnson previously stating that he wanted an agreement on a free trade deal by the time of the EU summit on October 15 in Brussels. 

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set the summit date as an effective deadline for determining whether a deal on a future relationship can be reached by the end of 2020.

Both the EU and UK sides have said an agreement needs to be struck in October to ensure sufficient time for ratification.

But what is the importance of the deadline and what issues remain?

Is October 15th the cut off for a Brexit deal?

Lead negotiators Michel Barnier and Lord Frost met last week for face-to-face discussions in London ahead of the EU summit. 

Both have expressed the importance of the 15th October with Boris Johnson telling Emmanuel Macron in phone talks that he would “explore every avenue” to secure a deal, but was prepared to leave the Brexit transition period at the end of the year on Australian-style terms with Brussels if necessary.

READ MORE: Brexit: Boris Johnson holds crunch talks with Macron as deadline looms

As well as trade, other aspects of the future relationship - including fishing access, movement and security co-operation - also need to be signed off. 

The UK’s chief negotiator David Frost reiterated that the 15th was a cut off for the UK side, but a senior EU diplomat said this was not Brussels’ understanding following private discussions. 

An EU source told The Guardian  “I don’t detect any readiness on the British side to suspend the negotiations. This is going to continue. It is not a deadline.”

European Council president Charles Michel said they had reached a critical stage. “The coming days are crucial, this is the moment of truth,” he said.

“I have been very clear with Prime Minister Johnson. It’s now for the UK to restore trust and to put all its cards on the table.

“The EU is doing its utmost to find an agreement with the UK, but not at any cost.”

Does missing the deadline make a no-deal Brexit more likely?

If the deadline is missed, then no-deal plans will be needed for a number of areas for 1 January. However, both groups have not ruled out further discussion post the October 15 cut-off. 

Both sides have upped their no-deal preparations suggesting that the cut off being missed may be a major factor in a no-deal Brexit. Therefore it is hard to categorically rule out a deal and likewise a no-deal Brexit. 

Michael Gove has claimed that there is a 66% chance that the UK and EU will be able to finalise a Brexit trade deal, telling the Lords’ Brexit Committee that it is “emphatically not our preference” for the UK to leave the transition period without a deal.

Boris Johnson claimed in September that a free trade deal must be done by 15 October, otherwise, the UK will “move on” and the UK government has not shown much favour for a so-called Brexit transition extension.


What about the Internal Market Bill?

The Internal Market bill will  "eliminate the legal force of parts of the withdrawal agreement" potentially making negotiations over Northern Ireland easier. 

The bill was drawn up to ensure trade between all four home nations remains barrier-free and that all markets remain joined up after the Brexit transition period ends on 31 December 2020.  The bill also aims to guarantee the international community has access to the UK as a whole

The UK government has also said it was seeking to change parts of the NI protocol by introducing a new law in Parliament. These changes would seek to clarify parts of the protocol in order to avoid disruption on 1 January.

What happens in a no-deal Brexit?

If no deal can be reached between the EU and the UK, the UK will default to World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms from 1 January 2021. Each WTO member has a list of tariffs and quotas that they apply to other countries they trade with, and the UK would have to apply those tariffs and quotas for goods coming into the nation.  

Without a deal, it would have to trade with every WTO member in the world on the best terms it offered any member, including the EU.

READ MORE: EHIC: Will the card still be valid post-Brexit?

There would also be border checks on UK products from 1 January 2021 with some nations, such as France, stating they will immediately bring in post-Brexit checks. 

When he became Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged an extra £2.1bn specifically to prepare for leaving the EU without a deal, however, a no-deal could make it exceptionally difficult for people.

UK ex-pats in the EU are advised to register as residents of the country they live in, although no deal could make moving across borders more difficult and European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) would be invalid after a no-deal Brexit.