Theresa May to chair 'Brexit Cabinet' to discuss trade deal amid fresh Barnier warning

Posted On: 
18th December 2017

Theresa May will today chair a 'Brexit Cabinet' of senior ministers as the Government thrashes out its position on a future EU trade deal.

Theresa May will meet senior ministers before updating MPs on Brexit progress

The European Council gave the green light last week to move talks on from the initial withdrawal discussions to a future trading relationship. 

However the new negotiating guidelines make clear that the two sides will only start talking trade in March, although preparatory work can begin immediately.

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After meeting senior colleagues, Mrs May is set to tell the Commons that both the UK and EU want to see a "smooth implementation period" after Brexit day in March 2019.

She will tell MPs that the UK does not intend to stay in the single market or customs union during that two-year transition, but "would propose that our access to one another's markets would continue as now".

But her position is at odds with the EU's guidelines, which state that "the United Kingdom will continue to participate in the Customs Union and the Single Market" during the transition, which would mean the continuation of free movement of people until 2021 at the earliest. 


Meanwhile Brussels chief negotiator Michel Barnier has reiterated that the UK will not be able to "cherry pick" which aspects of EU membership it wants to retain after leaving the bloc,

In an interview with Prospect magazine, the Frenchman said:

"We won’t mix up the various scenarios to create a specific one and accommodate their wishes, mixing, for instance, the advantages of the Norwegian model, member of the single market, with the simple requirements of the Canadian one. No way. They have to face the consequences of their own decision.”

He also made clear that "actual negotiations on the future relationship will only begin once the UK leaves the EU", comments that suggest a deal will not be in place on the proposed exit day of 29 March, 2019.