Brexit financial services deal 'imminent', says minister

Rupa Haq MP Trevor Phillips Ayesha Hazarika Neema Begum and Sunder Katwala at the Queen Mary panel. Credit Jonathan Cole

Rupa Haq MP Trevor Phillips Ayesha Hazarika Neema Begum and Sunder Katwala at the Queen Mary panel. Credit Jonathan Cole

It also comes after the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar yesterday told Mrs May that the United Kingdom could not be allowed to dictate the terms of any backstop.

Mrs May will meet with her cabinet tomorrow to brief ministers on the status of Brexit negotiations, and to persuade them to rally round her solution to the Irish border issue.

Senior sources told the paper that May has secured concessions from Brussels, with the EU agreeing to write an "all-U.K." customs union into the divorce deal.

The phone call followed a report by Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper that May's Brexit Minister Dominic Raab had privately demanded the right to pull Britain out of the backstop after three months.

"Obviously still having this issue in relation to the insurance arrangements for Northern Ireland and Ireland, and that very much remains our focus and attention in getting that deal".

A spokesman for Mr Varadkar said: "The Taoiseach indicated an openness to consider proposals for a review, provided that it was clear that the outcome of any such review could not involve a unilateral decision to end the backstop".

In inflammatory comments to reporters later, Mr Varadkar also branded the UK a "divided kingdom" and said that was making the talks more hard.

The backstop sets out what will happen to the Irish border if the Brexit transition ends before a final UK-EU trade deal is in place.

Theresa May has secured concessions from Brussels that will let her keep all of Britain in a customs union with the European Union to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland, the Sunday Times reported, without saying where it obtained the information.

Transition is now due to end in December 2020.

At the same time, it reported there would be an "exit clause" in the deal to convince Brexiteers in Parliament that the arrangement - which they oppose - would not be permanent.

But this has been rejected by London, as it would see customs checks take place between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

European Union deputy chief Brexit negotiator Sabine Weyand moved quickly to support Coveney.

"We are being asked to choose between the break-up of the Union - at least for economic purposes - or the subjugation of the whole country", said the former foreign secretary.

The tough talk from Ireland came as shadow chancellor John McDonnell confirmed Labour would not support a temporary customs union with the EU.

"As soon as MPs understand what is really at stake, I have no doubt that they will throw this deal out".

May later reiterated to Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz that she believed a withdrawal accord was 95 per cent complete, and was "confident" of a deal on the Northern Irish backstop.

Analysis carried out by the polling company showed that 105 council areas that voted Leave in 2016 would now vote Remain.

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