Dutch PM 'cautiously optimistic' about progress on Brexit talks

Dutch PM 'cautiously optimistic' about progress on Brexit talks

Dutch PM 'cautiously optimistic' about progress on Brexit talks

Trade secretary Liam Fox told friends that her proposal "would make life very hard for me", according to a Mail report, because it would limit the UK's ability to strike new free trade deals outside the EU.

Among those due to attend today's War Cabinet are: the Prime Minister's effective deputy David Lidington; Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary; Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary; Liam Fox, the International Trade Secretary; Greg Clark, the Business Secretary; Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, and Gavin Williamson, the Defence Secretary.

Her intervention came as Mrs May met Cabinet ministers in Downing Street to brief them on the progress in the Brexit negotiations.

Theresa May is under pressure to reverse course after Cabinet ministers threatened to walk out over her reported plans for a potential Brexit "backstop" which could effectively keep Britain permanently inside a Customs Union with the EU after Brexit.

One key obstacle remaining is the Irish border issue - on how to keep the new EU-UK land border with Northern Ireland open as it becomes the EU's new external border on the island of Ireland.

Blasting the proposed deal, she said: "Trade from Great Britain into Northern Ireland would be in danger of restriction".

The Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (NIRC), which was also at the meeting, said the deal on the table was uniquely beneficial to Northern Ireland's economy, which would suffer disproportionately from Brexit.

Such an arrangement would all but end May's chances of securing free trade deals with other countries.

Arlene Foster, the DUP leader, said on Thursday afternoon that the prime minister could not "in good conscience" recommend such a deal and vowed to oppose it. 'An very bad lot depends on the talks in the coming days'.

Citing figures to make its case, the report noted that the EU (together with the European Free Trade Association) accounted for 43% of Britain's services exports in 2016, worth around than £110 billion to the United Kingdom economy. The Cabinet is unlikely to agree the new proposal on Tuesday, so the European Union summit may have to park some key issues until November. High stakes at high noon for these Brexit negotiations.

He added that the DUP could vote down the Budget but still support the government in a confidence vote, as long as it changed its approach to Brexit.

While talks with Brussels have intensified since May emerged from her infighting Conservative party conference last week, there has been no breakthrough.

Both the European Union and Britain have signalled progress in recent days, boosting sentiment in financial markets which fear the most damaging no-deal Brexit.

The BBC understands Liam Fox, Michael Gove and Dominic Raab expressed concern the whole of the United Kingdom could remain in the customs union for an open-ended period.

Related news