German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Theresa May that time is running out for Brexit negotiations as the two leaders met for crunch talks in Berlin this afternoon.
Ahead of her make or break gathering with Cabinet ministers at Chequers, she told the Prime Minister that negotiations were now entering a crucial phase, with Brexit just eight months away.
She said: “You know that on behalf of the European Union the Commission is leading those negotiations with the United Kingdom. So there are a number of issues that we would like to discuss here also bilaterally, a number of substantive issues.”
Mrs May assured Mrs Merkel that negotiations between the EU and UK will take a step forward after the Cabinet meets at her country retreat, stating that she will be bringing them together decide a substantial way forward.
During their talks, May tried to persuade Merkel to back her new “facilitated customs arrangement” (FCA ) plan for customs rules post-Brexit. The proposal combines May’s original plan for the UK to collect EU tariffs with smart technology to smooth the process.Downing Street said FCA offered the best of both worlds as it would allow the UK the freedom to set its own tariffs on goods arriving into the country.
The proposals are likely to infuriate senior Cabinet Brexiteers such as Boris Johnson and David Davis. Jacob Rees-Mogg also attacked the plans, saying it would be a “serious mistake” to stay closely aligned to the EU’s customs rules.
Mr Johnson and Mr Davis held talks with other anti-EU ministers including Michael Gove, Liam Fox and Andrea Leadsom in Westminster tonight.