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No-deal Brexit looms as Theresa May pulls plug on agreement amid fears of Cabinet revolt

Emilio Casalicchio

2 min read

Last-ditch Brexit talks failed to secure a breakthrough last night after Theresa May decided she could not get a proposed deal past her Cabinet.

In a surprise move, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab dashed to Brussels for face-to-face talks with with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier after officials on both sides agreed a tenative deal.

But their meeting broke up after just an hour after it became clear both sides were still far apart on the so-called "backstop" arrangement to maintain an open border in Ireland.

According to the Telegraph, the Prime Minister pulled the plug on any deal over fears her Cabinet would not accept any agreement which left the UK tied to the EU's customs union indefinitely.

Mrs May is facing the prospect of Cabinet resignations this week unless any deal includes a specific end date for any such arrangement.

She also faces pressure from the DUP - whose 10 MPs prop her up in government - not to agree a deal that could create a new regulatory border down the Irish Sea.

In a joint statement last night, the Department for Exiting the European Union and Number 10 all-but ruled out reaching a deal at a crunch EU summit later this week.

"In the last few days UK and EU negotiators have made real progress in a number of key areas," they said. "However there remain a number of unresolved issues relating to the backstop.  

"The UK is still committed to making progress at the October European Council.”

Senior civil servants have urged the Government to begin implementing the no-deal contingency plans such as the stockpiling of medicines by the end of the month in case talks fall apart, according to the Times.

Mr Barnier said: “Despite intense efforts, some key issues are still open, including the backstop to avoid a hard border.”

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