Crunch Cabinet talks to hammer-out Brexit agenda

Theresa May is hosting an eight-hour inner Cabinet summit intended to finally thrash out the UK's Brexit objectives after Tory tensions on EU withdrawal broke to the surface again.

The Prime Minister is heading crunch talks with senior ministers at Chequers on Thursday in a bid to secure a united line on the exit agenda.

The 11-member inner Cabinet Brexit committee will meet at the Prime Minister's country residence to decide a clear negotiating path as talks with Brussels step up a gear.

With the gathering expected to continue late into the evening, Mrs May is aiming to get clear Cabinet consensus on the details of Britain's framework for a future relationship with the EU.

The meeting comes after leaked negotiating guidelines caused concern among Brexiteers, and the Government was forced to dismiss claims it was seeking a more open-ended transition deal after the UK formally quits the trading bloc in March 2019.

The paper stated the length of the "status quo" transition "should be determined simply by how long it will take to prepare and implement the new processes and new systems that will underpin the future partnership", which "points to a period of around two years".

The transition strategy outlined in the documents was not been agreed by the Cabinet, according to reports in The Daily Telegraph.

Writing in the newspaper, leading Leave campaigner Jacob Rees-Mogg said that the document would bring about "Brexit in name only" and be a "perversion of democracy".

Mr Rees-Mogg expressed concern about a lack of attention to immigration in the strategy paper, saying: "Concern over lost control over migration was a significant issue in the referendum.

"Whoever compiled this document proposes no changes to it for an indefinite period and would thereby let down millions of voters.

"To avoid the perversion of democracy that Brexit in name only would be, it is essential that we are able to sign trade deals in the fixed transition period."

The Chequers summit is part of a "road to Brexit" series of events intended to set-out the Government's ambitions for a post withdrawal settlement with the EU.

Meanwhile, the Financial Times reported that the Government is braced for Anglo-Dutch giant Unilever to base a new unified HQ in the Netherlands rather than the UK.

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