Government’s Brexit negotiations blasted as an ’embarrassment’

Nicole Morley

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Labour have been granted an urgent question about the stumbling Brexit process.

Keir Starmer has demanded the Government provide an update on the negotiations to leave the European Union.

In a blistering take-down, Starmer said: ‘Mr Speaker, what an embarrassment. The last 24-hours have given a new definition of a “coalition of chaos”.

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‘Yesterday the rubber hit the road. Fantasy has hit reality’, Starmer blasted, before asking: ‘Will the Prime Minister now rethink her reckless red lines and put options such as a customs union and single market back on the table for negotiation?’

Starmer added that the prospect of divisions in Ireland was ‘too high a price to pay’ for Brexit.

Speaker John Bercow granted the question from the Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, in the Commons.

Brexit Minister David Davis responded: ‘I start by apologising for my cough.

Government's Brexit negotiations blasted as an 'embarrassment'
Labour Party Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Brexit), Keir Starmer (Picture: Getty)
Government's Brexit negotiations blasted as an 'embarrassment'
Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Brexit Minister) David Davis speaking in the House of Commons (Picture: Getty)

‘Negotiations are ongoing as we speak. We held further talks in Brussels and progress has been made.’

Davis added that leaving one part of the UK inside the single market or customs union ‘is emphatically not something the UK Government is considering’.

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Trying to respond with a bit of sass, Davis said Labour’s policy on the customs union and single market had changed ’10 times’ in the last year.

The DUP, the Northern Irish party which props up Prime Minister Theresa May after an embarrassing snap election result, said it would not accept any Brexit deal that saw Northern Ireland diverging either economically or politically from the United Kingdom.

‘We will not allow any settlement to be agreed which causes the divergence politically or economically of Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom,’ Nigel Dodds, deputy leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), said.

‘There is now an agreement that the United Kingdom stands together and nothing will happen that will cause the breakup of this great United Kingdom,’ Dodds said.

Davis said Dodds was right and added that the issue of a frictionless border between the UK and Ireland was best dealt with in the next phase of Brexit talks.

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Labour have demanded an updated statement on the Brexit negotiations (Picture: PA)

More: UK

Theresa May’s Government is thought to be in crisis talks with the DUP, a Northern Irish party that props it up after an embarrassing snap election result, in a bid to salvage a Brexit deal ahead of a deadline next week.

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Britain and the European Union came close Monday to agreeing on key divorce terms, including how to maintain an open Irish border after the U.K. – including Northern Ireland – leaves the EU. But a deal was scuttled at the last minute when the Democratic Unionist Party, which props up May’s government, warned it would not give its backing.

Britain and the EU have only days to make a deal before a Dec. 14-15 EU summit that will decide whether Brexit talks can move on to future relations and trade.

The lack of progress so far has raised concerns that Britain may not have a deal by the time it officially leaves on March 29, 2019.

‘The show is now in London,’ EU Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said. ‘We stand ready here in the Commission to resume talks with the U.K. at any moment in time when we get the sign that London is ready.’

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