EU envoy says 'much more work' needed to clinch Brexit deal

UK PM May dives into flurry of diplomacy in bid to clinch Brexit deal

UK PM May dives into flurry of diplomacy in bid to clinch Brexit deal

Brussels will include a plan to put a customs border in the Irish Sea if there is a no-deal Brexit, a leaked letter from Theresa May suggests.

Senior ministers were invited to review the text of the withdrawal agreement that has so far been secured in negotiations with Brussels, and are poised to meet as soon as a deal is ready to be signed off.

May's spokesman said ministers agreed at cabinet on the need for an "effective mechanism" within the backstop to ensure "that the United Kingdom can not be held in the arrangement indefinitely".

But he rejected the idea Britain could unilaterally end the arrangement, something Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab and other eurosceptics in May's Conservative party want.

"So while of course we want progress to be made and we want it to be made as quickly as possible because time is moving on, I would urge caution that people don't get carried away on the back of rumour in the coming days".

The main obstacle to an agreement is how to keep goods flowing smoothly across the border between the Republic of Ireland, an European Union member, and Northern Ireland, which is part of the U.K. All parties have committed to avoid a "hard border" with costly, time-consuming border checks that would hamper business.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove and former Brexit Secretary David Davis have called on Mrs May release the legal advice setting out how the deal could be ended to avoid it becoming a permanent settlement.

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The worldwide trade secretary said on Thursday the government had "an instruction from our voters to leave the EU".

Opposition Labour Party spokesman Keir Starmer also said the legal advice should be published, because "the public have the right to know precisely what the Cabinet has signed up to and what the implications are for the future".

"Seven days is probably pushing it, but I am optimistic that there will be a Brexit deal", Hunt said, adding it is "very, very hard to resolve but I am confident that we can".

Brexiteers fear, under a backstop arrangement seeking to maintain a frictionless trade border with the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom could be left permanently in an effective customs union with the EU after leaving the bloc.

A potential sticking point could be demands for European Union fishing fleets to be given continued access to British coastal waters as the price for agreeing to Mrs May's UK-wide backstop, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, meanwhile, has warned of the need to fight against forces seeking to "demolish" the European project, saying: "There is now a Farage in every country".

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