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Virginia Mayo
British Prime Minister Theresa May, left, is greeted by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, right, prior to a meeting at EU headquarters in Brussels on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017. British Prime Minister Theresa May, met with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker early Friday morning following crucial overnight talks on the issue of the Irish border.(AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

LONDON (AP) — The man in charge of Britain's departure from the European Union says the chances the country will leave the 28-nation bloc with no trade deal have "dropped dramatically" after the two sides reached a preliminary agreement on divorce terms.

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David Davis told the BBC on Sunday that the deal hammered out by British Prime Minister Theresa May last week means Brexit talks can now move onto the next phase, giving Britain enough time to negotiate a free-trade agreement before it leaves the EU in March 2019. He says that makes it highly unlikely Britain will have to fall back on World Trade Organization rules that would impose tariffs on trade.

Davis says, "The odds, as it were, against a WTO, or no-deal outcome, have dropped dramatically."