Theresa May has admitted there is “a lot to be done” in Brexit talks amid reports that Cabinet ministers believe talks on a future trade relationship could be delayed until Christmas.
The Prime Minister said there has been a constructive and positive start to the first phase of talks, focused on the so-called “divorce bill”, citizens’ rights and the Irish border.
But she did not directly address reports that Cabinet ministers involved in the negotiations have privately indicated they think progress to the second phase – focused on a post-Brexit EU trade deal - may not happen until December.
Despite predicting the “row of the summer” over the sequencing of negotiations, Brexit Secretary David Davis in June accepted the European Union’s proposed timetable.
The aim now for both sides is to make “sufficient progress” by October’s European Council summit of EU leaders to get approval for talks on a future trade deal. But commenting on Sky News reports that next month’s federal elections in Germany could have an impact on the process, Mrs May told reporters in Powys, Wales: “It’s good that we’ve had a constructive, positive approach to the negotiations so far and those negotiations are continuing and we are working with the European Union.
“There’s a lot to be done, as a government we have shown the work that we are putting into this, we have published recently just in the last few days a number of papers that set out our thinking on some of those key issues for the future relationship.
“We will develop a deep and special partnership with the European Union for the future that’s good for the UK and it’s good for the EU as well.”
Mrs May also reiterated that the free movement of EU citizens will end amid reports that the Home Office is developing plans to ensure they are free to travel and live in Britain post-Brexit.
The proposals, which are not agreed across government nor finalised, suggest EU nationals would not be required to apply for a work visa to visit Britain to look for a job.
The newspaper also said the government would seek to limit the number of people migrating to work in the UK via a system of permits.
Mrs May said: “First of all we’re establishing, the Home Office is working on, the immigration rules that will apply when we’ve left the European Union. What we do know is that we will see an end to free movement as we have seen as members of the European Union, that won’t apply in the future. We will have immigration rules and those will be for people coming from inside the European Union.”