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15th Oct 2018

Brexit talks stalled, civil servants tell ministers to start implementing no deal plans

Judgement day draws near

Oli Dugmore

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 13: Britain's Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Brexit Minister) Dominic Raab arrives at Downing Street on September 13, 2018 in London, England. Theresa May is holding a special cabinet meeting today in Downing Street to discuss plans in the event of a 'no-deal' Brexit. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Judgement day draws near

Dominic Raab’s short notice trip to Brussels has failed to move the Brexit negotiations closer to a deal.

Senior civil servants are urging government ministers to start implementing ‘no deal’ Brexit plans now after discussions between the EU and UK collapsed after an hour, The Times reports.

The warning comes because no matter the state of negotiations at the end of Theresa May’s summit in Brussels this week, the latest the government can start implementing no deal contingency plans in time for Brexit day on March 29 2019 is the end of October.

Brexit secretary Dominic Raab paid the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier an unscheduled visit on Sunday amid speculation the two sides had come to an agreement, finding common ground on the Irish backstop.

That is not the case. Barnier said that “despite intense efforts” consensus had not been reached on a complex area of the discussion. He will debrief the remaining 27 EU member states and parliament on the state of negotiations.

Mr Barnier said: “Despite intense efforts, some key issues are still open, including the backstop to avoid a hard border.”

A Downing Street spokesperson said: “In the last few days UK and EU negotiators have made real progress in a number of key areas. However there remain a number of unresolved issues relating to the backstop.

“The UK is still committed to making progress at the October European Council.”

This weekend The Sunday Times reported nine cabinet ministers were dissatisfied with Theresa May’s Brexit stance and want her to change course. Mrs May’s critics believe the party could reach the threshold of 48 MPs necessary to initiate a no confidence vote in her leadership this week.

The party’s chief whip who is responsible for preventing that from happening tweeted a picture of his phone off the hook last night.