Top Brussels officials to be briefed on Brexit talks

EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, second left, talks to other European Commissioners before a weekly meeting at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels. Picture: AP
EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, second left, talks to other European Commissioners before a weekly meeting at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels. Picture: AP
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Theresa May will face the Commons amid intense Tory pressure to drop her Brexit plans as officials in Brussels gather to discuss their latest move in the talks.

Top EU officials will be briefed behind closed doors by chief negotiator Michel Barnier following intensified talks in the run-up to a crunch summit next week.

Mrs May will appear at the despatch box for the first session of Prime Minister’s questions after a party conference season dominated by Brexit divisions.

Former Brexit secretary David Davis warned on Tuesday of “dire” consequences for Conservatives at the next general election if the Government sticks to its negotiating stance on EU withdrawal.

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In a letter to fellow Tory MPs, he said a deal based on Mrs May’s Chequers plan would deliver “none of the benefits of Brexit” and reduce the UK to being “a rule-taker from Brussels”.

Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, meanwhile, said differences remained between the UK and EU on the withdrawal agreement but insisted “we are closing in on workable solutions”.

He told Tory Brexiteers their calls for a Canada-style trade deal would be a “shortcut to no deal”.

Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney warned of “carnage” if Britain crashed out of the EU but said he believed it was “unlikely” that would happen.

Mrs May told her Cabinet that Britain will not accept an EU withdrawal deal without a “precise” political declaration setting out how its requirements on trade and security will be delivered.

Despite optimistic comments from senior EU figures about the prospect of progress at the October 17-18 European Council summit, the PM made clear that agreement has not yet been reached on key issues including the Irish border.