Hammond: Government will listen to business concerns on Brexit

Michel Barnier

The Prime Minister was told by Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte to provide clarity on "every aspect" of the UK's future relationship with the EU, while European Council president Donald Tusk called for "realism" if a Brexit deal is to be reached this year.

But both leaders only laughed when asked by waiting reporters if the European Union would support May's reported proposal of a third option for overcoming the hard issue of what customs arrangements to adopt after Brexit.

The Eurosceptic MP said the government could collapse if the Prime Minister did not deliver on what she promised.

In a podcast for the ConservativeHome website, he said there had been a "breakdown in collective responsibility" in the Cabinet, with pro-EU ministers openly promoting solutions "against the Prime Minister's speeches, against the position formally of the Cabinet and against the manifesto".

He insisted he was not "personally ambitious" and was not aware of a £750,000 war chest reportedly raised by supporters for an eventual leadership bid.

"The last thing we need is a leadership challenge", he said on Twitter.

"We have convened all across the United Kingdom to ensure that every business community's Brexit concerns can be heard by elected representatives and officials".

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However, the signs that the government is starting from scratch - almost one year after customs plans were first published and just four days before the Chequers showdown - "are certain to add to criticism of Brexit chaos" says The Independent.

A Downing Street spokesman declined to comment on the BBC report.

Ministers have been involved in heated discussions recently as they tried to choose between two earlier models.

Brexit-backing former Cabinet minister Owen Paterson said the Government should be prepared for a "no deal" scenario relying on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms. She also said the hard Irish border issue has been "weaponised" by the European Union and that the technology is more than capable of dealing with the trade that goes across it, which is very small compared to the Canada-US border.

A Cabinet source said: "In the speculation "will there be fudge, won't there be fudge" - I suspect there will be".

The Guardian confirms that the government's long-awaited White Paper on a future trading relationship with the European Union "is expected to propose the United Kingdom remaining indefinitely in a single market for goods after Brexit, to avoid the need for checks at the Irish border". In the hope a truce can be agreed between her feuding ministers, the strategy will be set out in a white paper the following week. She adds, it's time for the United Kingdom government to cut down its ambitions to a vanilla-free trade agreement with the European Union on goods, and something for services, that would be the most practical way forward.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said "we have been waiting for months now for the white paper".

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