Theresa May is facing a race against time to make progress in Brexit talks amid a deadlock over the Irish border.

The Prime Minister is hoping to make a new offer by Friday to satisfy both the Republic of Ireland and the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party, which props up her government and scuppered a deal on divorce issues this week.

Pressure is mounting on Mrs May to get leaders at the 14 December European Council summit to declare sufficient progress has been made to pave the way for trade talks to begin, with business chiefs warning companies will activate contingency plans that will cost Britain jobs if there is further delay.

Live Updates

5 mins ago

‘Rome is burning’: CBI boss sounds Brexit alarm over stalled EU talks over trade

The president of the CBI business lobby has delivered a scorching warning to government ministers over Brexit, saying that for the corporate world “Rome is burning”.

Paul Drechsler, who is also chair of the shipping company Bibby Line, said around 60 per cent of firms with Brexit contingency plans will activate them by Easter 2018 unless the UK gets the green light from the European Union to begin trade talks by the time the European Council meets on 14 December.

17 mins ago

Fewer than 20 MPs and peers have read the government’s Brexit analysis papers, according to Andrea Leadsom.

The Commons Leader bemoaned the Opposition for causing “enormous headlines and publicity” before adding “only 16 members across both Houses” have viewed them.

A reading room has been established to allow MPs and peers access to the 850-page dossier of information provided by Brexit Secretary David Davis.

Her comments came in Parliament after Shadow Commons leader Valerie Vaz challenged Mrs Leadsom over the “invisible papers” and criticised the “secretive” viewing process.

Ms Vaz said: “Members have to make an appointment, have to arrive five minutes early, you then get escorted to look at the papers by a Government official, you can’t take a mobile phone in, you have to take a notebook, and presumably we’re given a stubby pencil or maybe a pen with invisible ink. That is completely bizarre.”

Ms Leadsom replied: “The Opposition have absolutely caused enormous headlines and publicity over this issue.

“The House will be interested to know the sum total of 16 members of this House and the House of Lords have taken the trouble to see that analysis that has been made available.”


23 mins ago

Boris Johnson has been giving a speech at the Foreign Office. Taking questions, the Foreign Secretary declined to comment on the progress of Brexit negotiations but said it was time for the EU and Britain to “get going” with the second phase of talks.
Mr Johnson said he was “not going to give a running commentary” on the state of talks with the DUP and Irish Government.
But he added, breaking briefly into French: “We need to get going, franchement (frankly), with the second part of the talks. That’s the exciting bit.
“That’s the bit where we will achieve a new trading relationship with our friends and partners.
“We can get it done, we just need to get on with it, and I hope very much that the December European Council will mark that progress.”

31 mins ago

Britain must stay in European Court of Human Rights if it wants a trade deal, Brussels to insist

Britain must agree to stay under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights if it wants a trade deal with the EU, according to a European Parliament motion leaked to The Independent.

47 mins ago

Brexit loomed large as Michael Gove took questions in Commons this morning.
The Environment Secretary denied accusations it was a “disgrace” that no assessment has been made on the impact of Brexit on food and farming after being pressed by several MPs on what forecasts had been made.
Labour’s Barry Sheerman, MP for Huddersfield, said the industry was “terrified about the impact of leaving the European Union”.
Environment minister George Eustice said the impact would be “marginal”, telling MPs: “The key drivers of food price changes are exchange rates, weather events and oil prices: these factors affect all countries in the world, whether they are members of the European Union or independent nation states.”

58 mins ago

The documents handed over to Parliament by Brexit Secretary David Davis last month are “underwhelming” and do not amount to an assessment of the likely impact on the UK economy of withdrawal from the EU, a senior peer has said.
Lord Jay of Ewelme, the acting chair of the House of Lords EU Committee and former senior civil servant, said that he would have expected a “proper” impact assessment to be conducted to inform the Government of the likely effect of Brexit on different sectors of industry.There were calls from opposition MPs for Mr Davis to be sacked after he admitted to the Commons Exiting the EU Committee on Wednesday that his department had carried out no formal impact assessments for the Government’s Brexit plans.
But Mr Davis appeared to have dodged threats of an investigation for alleged contempt of Parliament, after the committee ruled that he had adequately fulfilled the terms of a Commons motion requiring him to hand over 58 sectoral impact assessments believed to have been drawn up by the Department for Exiting the EU.

1 hour ago

Tory rebels to demand powers to extend EU talks

Conservative Party rebels are mounting a bid to give Parliament the power to delay Brexit if a suitable deal if not reached by March 2019

1 hour ago


Theresa May will make a fresh offer to settle the Irish border dispute within hours

The Prime Minister is to put forward a fresh proposal to solve the Irish border deadlock, as the EU’s Brexit negotiator said Friday was the deadline to rescue a deal.

1 hour ago

Good morning, and welcome to The Independent‘s Brexit live blog.
We’ll be bringing you the latest updates as Theresa May scrambles to solve a dispute over the Irish border under growing pressue to move forward with EU negotiations.

Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte have made clear the EU will not compromise and allow the Irish border to be kicked down the road to phase two of the talks, even under threat of Britain crashing out with no deal.

After a phone call with Mrs May on Wednesday, Mr Varadkar said the PM was hoping to return with a new formal written offer “tonight and tomorrow”, but warned if there was no agreement talks would be picked up in the New Year.

Mrs May also spoke with DUP leader Arlene Foster, whose rejection of plans for “regulatory alignment” between Northern Ireland and the Republic led to the collapse of a proposed deal on Monday.


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