Minister: ‘Brexit will go down to the wire’
PUBLISHED: 10:21 10 October 2018
PA Wire/PA Images
A cabinet minister has predicted negotiations with the European Union will go to the “last minute” as he urged people to get behind the embattled PM.
Health secretary Matt Hancock backed Theresa May to secure a good deal for the UK but added he believed talks would go down to the wire.
The prediction will spook a business community that desperately wants clarity from the negotiations so proper post-Brexit planning can begin.
But Hancock called for unity behind May’s efforts to secure a Brexit deal.
He said: “I think that the prime minister is doing an excellent job in difficult circumstances and I think that she has got to make the judgments about how we land a good deal, so I’m backing the prime minister to get a good deal and I think the whole nation should get behind her.”
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We are entering the end phase of these negotiations, we all know that EU negotiations tend to run up to the last minute and the person to make the judgments on getting the best deal in the national interest is the prime minister.”
His comments come as May faces the Commons for the first time since conference season and pressure mounts on her to amend her Chequers proposal.
Top EU officials will be briefed behind closed doors by chief negotiator Michel Barnier following intensified talks in the run-up to a crunch summit next week.
Despite optimistic comments from senior EU figures about the prospect of progress at the October 17-18 European Council summit, the PM made clear that agreement has not yet been reached on key issues including the Irish border.