Cabinet to discuss plans for a 'no deal' Brexit

Cabinet ministers will discuss preparations for Brexit, including the possibility of leaving the EU without a deal, when they gather at Downing Street tomorrow.

A Number 10 spokesman confirmed the meeting will cover Theresa May's hopes for progress on a trade agreement - but will also cover preparations for a "no deal" scenario if talks with Brussels break down.

Theresa May's official spokesman said that "all contingencies" will be discussed, including the possibility of Britain leaving the EU without a deal.

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"It is looking at Brexit preparations for all contingencies," said the spokesman.

"That obviously does include 'no deal', but as the Prime Minister has said on many occasions, we are working towards getting a deal and we are confident that we will do so."

Brexit Secretary David Davis is expected to "take the lead" in the Cabinet discussion, said the spokesman.

"Cabinet has been updated on Brexit preparations regularly. This is another opportunity to do so," said the spokesman.

Asked whether ministers would discuss the possibility of Brexit not happening, he said: "We have been very clear that we are leaving the European Union."

Despite calls from both sides for Brexit talks to "accelerate", Brussels confirmed that the date for the next round of negotiations has yet to be set. Businesses have demanded a breakthrough on the terms of a post-Brexit transition period by December in order to avoid having to shift employees overseas.

Meanwhile, EU officials have denied that EU negotiator Michel Barnier is conducting parallel Brexit talks with prominent Remain campaigners, including Nick Clegg.

Former deputy prime minister Mr Clegg was meeting Mr Barnier in Brussels, but EU officials insisted this was part of the negotiator's "open door" approach to meetings.

But ex-Liberal Democrat leader Mr Clegg, Labour peer Lord Adonis and veteran pro-EU Tory Ken Clarke were in Brussels for talks with Mr Barnier and EU economic and financial affairs commissioner Pierre Moscovici.

European Commission spokesman Alexander Winterstein insisted that the only negotiations taking place were those involving the teams led by Mr Davis and Mr Barnier.

He said: "His (Mr Barnier's) door is always open for people who want to speak to him and his team, across the political spectrum and from all walks of life, from all parties, whoever is interested to speak to Michel Barnier."

In response to a suggestion the meeting would lead to concerns the EU is engaged in a "shadow negotiation", Mr Winterstein said: "There are two negotiators - on the one side the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, David Davis, and on the European side it's the chief negotiator of the EU, Michel Barnier. Nobody else."

He added: "All these meetings were requested by the people who are coming to see Mr Barnier. His door is always open."