United Kingdom must be able to withdraw from Irish backstop — Liam Fox

UK PM May dives into flurry of diplomacy in bid to clinch Brexit deal

The cabinet took no decisions and more work had to be done on the British side, he said.

"We are still in negotiations, and on that basis we don't know when and if this will conclude", a spokesman said, adding that a much-rumoured Cabinet meeting to allow ministers to sign off the deal had not been scheduled.

As reported by Reuters, UK Prime Minister Theresa May's office announced on Tuesday that the Brexit-battered PM has established five business councils to advise on post-Brexit issues following the EU-UK divorce.

The Irish government has rejected suggestions the United Kingdom could be handed the unilateral right to terminate a backstop arrangement at a future date, as reportedly being pushed by some of Mrs May's top ministers.

"So while of course we want progress to be made and we want it to be made as quickly as possible because time is moving on, I would urge caution that people don't get carried away on the back of rumour in the coming days".

But some pro-Brexit Cabinet ministers want to see legal advice drawn up by Attorney General Geoffrey Cox before they agree to anything.

"We have an instruction from our voters to leave the European Union", he said.

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Conservative Dominic Grieve has written to Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill calling for government documents explaining any final withdrawal agreement to the public to include a full comparison with the status quo as well as with a no deal scenario.

DUP leader Arlene Foster said the Prime Minister appeared "wedded to the idea of a border down the Irish Sea" despite Downing Street's assurances to the contrary.

"We will need to be satisfied in the negotiations that we have achieved the best deal that we possibly can for the United Kingdom", he said.

A potential sticking point could be demands for European Union fishing fleets to be given continued access to British coastal waters as the price for agreeing to Mrs May's UK-wide backstop, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Amid speculation a deal is closed to being agreed, May's proposed backstop would see the entire United Kingdom effectively agree to remain in the customs union.

The European Union's Brexit negotiator on Thursday said that gaps remain to be bridged in talks on the U.K.'s departure from the bloc as time runs out to secure a deal and have it endorsed.

Michel Barnier cited the anti-EU British MEP Nigel Farage as a cautionary example at a conference of the centre-right European People's Party.

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