Dutch PM 'cautiously optimistic' about progress on Brexit talks

Dutch PM 'cautiously optimistic' about progress on Brexit talks

Earlier, the EU's Brexit negotiator said he had a "constructive meeting" in Poland over Brexit.

As May prepared to update key Cabinet ministers on progress toward a deal, Ivan Rogers said that, more than two years after voting to leave the EU, Britain is "on fantasy island" about what kind of divorce agreement is possible.

Eurosceptics want a time limit for how long Britain will keep following the EU's customs rules before it can strike out on its own and sign independent trade agreements with new partners.

Meanwhile, also on Friday and speaking in London following a hard informal meeting of cabinet ministers in Downing Street, Mr Raab admitted the backstop issue is the "one real sticking point" in negotiations as he offered contradictory comments to Mr Coveney. Penny Mordaunt, the global development secretary, and Esther McVey, the work and pensions secretary, and Andrea Leadsom have the most significant concerns over the plans, although they did not attend last night's meeting.

The EU wants Northern Ireland to remain in the single market and the customs union to avoid customs checks until there is a final free trade deal between the United Kingdom and the EU.

But many senior ministers fear that the arrangement could become permanent, and reportedly raised their concerns with Theresa May at last night's meeting.

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"It would have to be finite, it would have to be short and it would have to be, I think, time-limited in order for it to be supported here", said Britain's Brexit minister, Dominic Raab.

The party, who are in a confidence and supply agreement to prop up Mrs May's Conservative Government, have said they are willing to vote against the government if betrayed on the Brexit deal.

With less than six months to go until the United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union, its most momentous shift in foreign and trade policy for over four decades, May is seeking to rally support at home on the details of a divorce deal though it is unclear if she can win parliamentary approval.

She added that the plan for checks on goods was "a one-way turnstile, which could restrict trade from Great Britain to Northern Ireland" and said it was "the worst of one world". A negotiated Brexit, and Theresa May's survival, hinge on whether her ministers and MPs can live with this paradox.

"The prime minister is a unionist".

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