November 30, 2020
Business

May and senior ministers hash out final Brexit stance in marathon meeting

Theresa May and her ministers were in crunch talks late into the night in a bid to nail down a final position on customs arrangements and details for the transition period of Britain’s departure from the EU.

The Prime Minister is expected to set out the path Britain plans to take in a speech next week following discussions at full Cabinet.

May met the group of Cabinet heavy-hitters for eight hours at Chequers yesterday, with the Prime Minister leading discussion on the overall partnership that the UK is seeking with the EU.

Read more: Brussels rejects UK government's approach to future relationship

Among those in attendance were members of the Brexit war committee, chief whip Julian Smith and a number of senior government officials.

The car industry took centre stage in talks led by business secretary Greg Clark, while environment secretary Michael Gove headed up discussions on agri-foods, and international trade secretary Liam Fox on digital trade.

The Chequers meeting was arranged with a view to ironing out a common stance among the Cabinet and addressing divisions over customs arrangements, regulatory divergence and transition.

The UK had been mulling the idea of extending the transition beyond two years, official documents confirmed this week.

Brussels meanwhile, has published an update on its negotiating position for the EU’s relationship with the UK post-Brexit, with the bloc cool on a deal that would mean Britain sticks to its rules in some areas, diverge moderately in others, and opts for vastly different options for the rest.

It warned that special treatment could “undermine” existing arrangements with third countries.

Reports elsewhere, suggest Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will provide more detail on his own Brexit position in a speech outlining his policy next week. His shadow chancellor John McDonnell said yesterday that a second referendum was still on the table, with “all options” still open.

Read more: Corbyn to set out Labour's Brexit position next week

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