'I feel more optimistic than I did a couple of weeks ago': UK's Hammond on Brexit

With only six months to go before the U.K. leaves the European Union, the pace of the Brexit negotiations has been stepped up, the U.K.’s finance chief told CNBC on Friday, adding that he feels “more optimistic today” compared to a few weeks ago.

However, there are still some “very intractable differences” between both sides of the English Channel that need to be resolved.

“Over the last week or so, there has been a very definite step change in the pace around the process. The (European) commission is now clearly engaged, there is a sense of urgency and a sense of both sides really trying to breakthrough and solve these knotty problems,” Philip Hammond, chancellor of the exchequer, told CNBC in Bali.

“But I would not want to give any sense that the knottiness of the problems themselves has gone away. There are still some very intractable differences between us, but there is a much clearer sense that we are working together on these shared problems that we are trying to resolve,” Hammond told CNBC’s Geoff Cutmore.

Brexit negotiators are working against the clock as they try to reach a breakthrough over the Northern Irish and Irish border issue by Monday.

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