Liam Fox´s department u-turns on Brexit trade deal pledge


Britain has reached an impasse in its last-minute renegotiation of an exit deal that it agreed with the European Union past year but that was overwhelmingly rejected by the British parliament in January.

Prime Minister Theresa May will pledge this week to give parliament another chance to voice their opinions on Brexit by February 27 as she tries to buy more time to negotiate a new deal with the European Union. The backstop is the main obstacle to securing agreement on the terms of Britain's withdrawal from the EU.

Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel says the a "disunited kingdom" where pro-Brexit politicians lack ideas and courage.

May is seeking changes to her deal with Brussels after it was rejected by a record majority in parliament on January 15.

At a dinner with Barnier in Brussels later on Monday, the UK's Brexit secretary, Stephen Barclay, was expected to push May's calls for a time limit on the backstop, a unilateral exit mechanism or its replacement with an "alternative arrangement".

Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show on Sunday morning, Brokenshire said if a deal had not been agreed by February 27 then MPs would be allowed to again vote on their own proposals as to what should happen.

Liam Fox's trade department has secretly admitted to some of Britain's biggest businesses that the 40 free trade deals the minister promised to have ready by Brexit day are "unlikely" to materialise.

He said leaving, without either a transition agreement or greater certainty over a future long-term trade deal with the European Union, would mean "no closure" for the country, leaving the political arguments to rage on long after Britain has formally left the bloc, with which it is deeply integrated.

Government papers seen by The Telegraph claim that the European Commission is preventing individual member states from engaging with ministers to put in place health and benefits arrangements for British nationals in the EU.

The deal will also apply to Liechtenstein - represented by foreign minister Aurelia Frick - under the Swiss-Liechtenstein Customs Union.

EU and United Kingdom officials are discussing what concessions the Europeans could make to help May push a deal through Parliament by Brexit day on March 29.

The residency rights of Swiss and British nationals already living in each other's countries will be guaranteed after Britain leaves the EU.

But the head of the Confederation of British Industry, Carolyn Fairbairn, said on Sunday the "unfolding nightmare" of Britain's exit meant that major trade partners like Japan and South Korea were reluctant to sign deals until they knew the exact shape of future EU-Britain ties. They suggested it was now time for Jeremy Corbyn to do so.