Brexit today: Donald Tusk tells Theresa May EU leaders ‘not happy’ with her negotiating stance after Downing Street meeting – as it happened


Theresa May has briefed her Cabinet on a major Brexit speech she is due to deliver tomorrow. 

The speech, laying out the Government’s plan for the UK’s future relationship with the EU, will attempt to offer enough to her Remainer and Eurosceptic backbenchers to stave off potential rebellions.

Ministers said there was “broad agreement” at the Cabinet meeting.

The Prime Minister later met European Council President Donald Tusk for a working lunch at Downing Street, where she briefed him on the speech.

Elsewhere, one of Ms May’s predecessors has also delivered a speech. Tony Blair used a trip to Brussels to urge EU leaders to do more to try to stop Brexit. 

As it happened...

Live Updates

11 hours ago

Donald Tusk, the European Council President, is currently speaking in Brussels. He says the only way for the UK to have “frictionless trade” with the EU after Brexit – as ministers have repeatedly insisted they want – is to remain in some kind of customs union. Of course, Downing Street has repeatedly ruled that out…

10 hours ago

Here’s more from Donald Tusk on the issue of the Northern Ireland border:
“Recently, London has definitively confirmed its red lines, including “no customs union” and “no single market”. We acknowledge these red lines without enthusiasm and without satisfaction. But we must treat them seriously. With all their consequences. And one of the possible negative consequences of this kind of Brexit is a hard border on the island of Ireland. The EU wants to prevent this scenario. Hence, if no other solution is found, the proposal to “establish a common regulatory area comprising the Union and the United Kingdom in respect of Northern Ireland”. And, until now, no-one has come up with anything wiser than that.”

10 hours ago

Mr Tusk concludes by saying:
“There can be no frictionless trade outside of the customs union and the Single Market. Friction is an inevitable side effect of Brexit. By nature.”

10 hours ago

As the war of words between London and Brussels continues, David Davis has warned that Britain could refuse to pay its Brexit “divorce bill” unless the EU backs down over the Northern Ireland border. Here’s Rob Merrick‘s report: 

Britain will refuse to pay Brexit ‘divorce bill’ if EU doesn’t back down over Northern Ireland, David Davis warns

David Davis has renewed his threat that Britain will refuse to pay its huge Brexit “divorce bill” unless Brussels backs down on its proposal for Northern Ireland to remain under EU rules.

10 hours ago

We’re expecting a statement in the House of Commons at 10.30am from Matt Hancock, the Culture Secretary, on the second part of the Leveson Inquiry. Perhaps by coincidence, it comes just two days after revelations about privacy campaigner Max Mosley’s previous comments on race and immigration, and his donations to some Labour MPs…

10 hours ago

Donald Tusk used a speech in Brussels this morning to warn that Theresa May’s Brexit strategy means trade barriers between the EU and the UK are “inevitable” after Brexit, as Jon Stone reports…

Theresa May’s Brexit plan makes trade barriers ‘inevitable’, EU says

Theresa May has made trade barriers with the EU “inevitable” by her choice of Brexit red lines, the president of the European Council has warned. Speaking at an event of business leaders in Brussels Donald Tusk said that leaving the single market and customs union would “determine the shape of our future relationship”.

9 hours ago

Matt Hancock, the Culture Secretary, is now giving a statement to MPs on the issue of press freedom.
He says press regulation has increased since the Leveson Inquiry and confirms the Government is scrapping plans for a second part of the inquiry, which was due to focus on the culture that led to the hacking scandal.
“We do not believe that reopening this costly and time-consuming public inquiry is the right way forward,” he says.
Mr Hancock says Sir Brian Leveson has been informed that his inquiry will now be formally closed.

9 hours ago

Here’s the full story on the Government’s decision to scrap part two of the Leveson Inquiry into press regulation…

‘Leveson 2’ press enquiry abandoned by Government

Plans for a second public inquiry into the conduct of the press – promised at the height of the hacking scandal – have been abandoned by the Government. Matt Hancock, the Culture Secretary, told MPs that the “Leveson 2” probe into the relationship between journalists and the police was no longer necessary. “We do not believe that reopening this costly and time-consuming public inquiry is the right way forward,” the Commons was told. More follows…


8 hours ago

Jacob Rees-Mogg has admitted he was wrong to suggest Jeremy Corbyn voted against the Good Friday Agreement. He tweeted…

8 hours ago


The Cabinet has finished discussing Theresa May’s big Brexit speech, which she is due to deliver in Newcastle tomorrow. One minister said there was “broad agreement” at the meeting – which doesn’t exactly sound like total unity…

8 hours ago

The threat level posed to England, Scotland and Wales by Northern Ireland-related terrorism has been down graded from “substantial” to “moderate”, Amber Rudd has announced.
The Home Secretary said in a written statement that the UK-wide threat level remains at “severe”.


8 hours ago

8 hours ago

Ken Livingstone has had his suspension from the Labour Party extended, according to reports.
The Jewish News newspaper says the former Mayor of London will be suspended again when his current ban expires in April.
A Labour spokesperson told the paper: 
“Ken Livingstone has been administratively suspended from the Labour Party pending the outcome of an internal party investigation. That suspension starts on the date his membership suspension applied by the national constitutional committee ends on 27 April 2018.”

7 hours ago

The European Parliament has rejected Theresa May’s concessions on the rights of EU citizens coming to the UK during the Brexit transition period. The Prime Minister backed down yesterday and agreed that EU migrants arriving after March 2019 would be granted five-year residency permits instead of the two years that had originally been proposed.
However, Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit lead, said the concession was not enough.

“We have taken note of the UK government policy statement and the clarification it provides for EU citizens who will go to the UK during the Brexit transition period and will in principle have the right to settle permanently in the UK.

“However, we cannot accept that there will be any form of discrimination between EU citizens who arrive before the start of the transition and after.”

7 hours ago

The Prime Minister’s spokesman has just given journalists a run-through of what happened at this morning’s Cabinet meeting. Here’s a summary from Joe Watts:
The Prime Minister and her Cabinet spent two hours reading and then discussing Theresa May’s big speech this morning.

While they are said to have unanimously agreed it will be a “real step forward”, there is little further detail about their discussion or whether ministers raised any objections.
One potentially telling detail revealed by her spokesman, is that it was a “genuine discussion” and the PM will now go away and “finalise” her speech, suggesting that she could make some changes to keep people happy before delivering it tomorrow.
Ministers were given paper copies of the speech, which the PM said would show how the UK is seeking an “ambitious economic partnership”, to read through before their conversation began.

Every Cabinet minister got to have their say, starting with cool-head Minister for the Cabinet Office David Lidington, then Brexit Secretary David Davis and the others.
Culture Secretary Matt Hancock was not there for the whole time as he had to make a statement to the House of Commons, and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, also required in the House, sent a note that was read out by the PM.

With a further meeting with Donald Tusk still to come today, Ms May will also be given a flavour of the EU’s likely reaction to her broad proposals before sitting down to put finishing touches to them.

7 hours ago

The fallout from yesterday’s speech by John Major, in which he called on Tory MPs to back a softer Brexit, continues…

7 hours ago

The deficit reduction target set out by George Osborne when he was Chancellor has finally been met – two years later than forecast. Ben Chu explains all…

Osborne’s austerity deficit reduction target finally achieved, two years late

The original austerity deficit reduction target set by the former Chancellor George Osborne has finally been achieved, according to official figures – but more than two years after the original target date, reflecting the deeply disappointing performance of the overall economy since 2010.

7 hours ago


Indy exclusive: Tory MPs have tabled new amendments in an attempt to force the Government to give Parliament the right to veto post-Brexit trade deals.

Tory MPs launch bid to prevent Government signing post-Brexit trade deals without Parliament’s approval

Rebel Tory MPs have launched an attempt to prevent the Government signing new trade deals after Brexit without Parliament’s approval. Fresh amendments tabled to a key Brexit bill would force ministers to give MPs and peers the power to amend or veto dozens of potential deals, amid fears ministers are planning to force them through without parliamentary scrutiny.

6 hours ago

A video has emerged of Theresa May admitting there cannot be an open border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, if Britain leaves the EU.
The Prime Minister, who was Home Secretary at the time, said there would “have to be” some sort of border to recognise that tariffs may be charged on goods entering and leaving the UK and to account for different immigration rules.
Story here: 

Video of Theresa May admitting there can’t be an open Irish border emerges

6 hours ago

Momentum founder Jon Lansman has also officially launched a bid to be the next General Secretary, after Iain McNicol’s resignation last week.
The move could lead to divisions amongst the left-wing of the party, as Unite’s Jennie Formby is also standing for the post.
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