Downing Street lobby briefing on Northern Ireland, Trump and Hammond
Here is a summary of this morning's briefing for lobby journalists by the Prime Minister's official spokesman.
BREXIT DEAL DEADLINE
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said the Government was still working towards a December deadline to reach a deal on Brexit, despite difficulties around the Northern Irish border.
Briefing journalists this morning, he said: “We are close to an agreement but there is ongoing work still to be done and it is an ongoing process.”
The spokesman confirmed that the December European Council would be a focal point for the talks.
“We are working towards the European Council,” he said.
“We are working towards December, we want to make progress as soon as possible. December is where we are looking to.”
Responding to reports that DUP leader Arlene Foster had requested a seat at the Brexit negotiating table, he said the government would continue to have “ongoing engagement with Arlene Foster, with devolved administrations.
“What the Prime Minister is committed to doing is to having ongoing dialogue to ensure that we get the best Brexit for the whole of the United Kingdom.”
Following Theresa May’s declaration yesterday that she was planning a phone call to US President Donald Trump to discuss his controversial decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the spokesman said: “They haven’t spoken yet.”
Reiterating the position set out last night by the Prime Minister, he added: “This is not a decision which we agree with, nor is it one which we consider will be helpful in the region and to finding the lasting solution which is in everybody’s interest.”
Asked about inflammatory remarks made by the Chancellor Philip Hammond, in which he suggested that the UK’s low productivity was because more disabled people were in work, the spokesman said:
“The Prime Minister is hugely proud of its efforts and record in getting disabled people back into work. She thinks that that makes a huge contribution to the economy and to wider society.”