Brexit deal not close admits Number 10

PUBLISHED: 15:16 06 November 2018 | UPDATED: 15:16 06 November 2018

Prime minister Theresa May has told her minister's she won't agree a withdrawal deal with the EU “at any cost”.
Photo: PA / Stefan Rousseau

Prime minister Theresa May has told her minister's she won't agree a withdrawal deal with the EU "at any cost". Photo: PA / Stefan Rousseau

PA Wire/PA Images

Downing Street has admitted a Brexit deal remains a long way off.

The prime minister’s official spokesman cautioned that even though there were rumours of a breakthrough earlier in the week the deadlock drags on.

He said: “Don’t be under any illusion, there remains a significant amount of work to do.”

READ: NHS could be 51,000 nurses short post-Brexit

The comments came after Theresa May told the cabinet she would not agree a withdrawal deal with the EU “at any cost”.

The prime minister said any agreement will be dependent on an “acceptable” framework for future relations in areas like trade and security, expected to be covered in a separate political declaration.

At the regular weekly meeting in Number 10, senior ministers discussed proposals for a “review mechanism” to ensure that the UK is not stuck indefinitely in a possible backstop arrangement designed to avoid a hard border in Ireland.

The meeting came as hopes of a special Brexit summit to finalise the withdrawal agreement in November appeared to be receding.

A gathering of EU leaders in Brussels on the previously mooted date of November 17 is now thought to have been ruled out, while a special summit later in the month would be dependent on EU negotiator Michel Barnier declaring that “decisive progress” has been made in talks.

Barnier also said a breakthrough on the Irish border issue was not close.

“For now, we are still negotiating and I am not, as I am speaking to you this morning, able to tell you that we are close to reaching an agreement,” he said.

“There is still a real point of divergence on the way of guaranteeing peace in Ireland, that there are no borders in Ireland, while protecting the integrity of the single market.”

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