European Union leaders debate jobs race, Brexit budget hole


In recent debates we have set out new priorities, such as stemming illegal migration, improving European security and defence as well as investing more in the Erasmus programme.

But the stance puts the Government on course for a clash in the Commons after Tories and Labour MPs backed an amendment to Theresa May's Trade Bill which would commit the United Kingdom to a customs union with Brussels.

Officials said leaders were mostly opposed to what they see as a power grab by MEPs at the expense of national sovereignty.

The party's shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry has said Labour now backs a post-exit customs union that would look "pretty much like" the current one, meaning the Government could very well be defeated if the amendment comes to a vote.

The bloc also doubts that is enough to agree a comprehensive future trade deal and expects that time to drag out.

Brexit-supporting Conservative MP Michael Fabricant described it as a "total betrayal" of Leave voters.

Asked if there is any possibility of the Government coming round to the idea of "a" customs union, Mr Hunt said "no".

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Mr Tusk said he could only go on media reports of Brexit talks at the PM's country retreat Chequers on Thursday.

"I am not commenting on the outcome of the Chequers meeting until I know the exact conclusions.I am not a British prime minister, it would be good for Britain if I was", he told reporters before heading into the summit, which is to discuss the future of Europe after Brexit.

He added that the PM's top team agreed there will be areas of the economy - such as the automotive sector - where Britain will align itself with European regulations and others where it will diverge.

"But it will be on a voluntary basis, we will as a sovereign power have the right to choose to diverge and what we won't be doing is accepting changes in rules because the European Union unilaterally chooses to make those changes". May hopes Britain can stay closely aligned with European Union on security policy.

Mrs May will set out her confirmed strategy for the next phase of Brexit negotiations in a speech next Friday, following on from a meeting of her full Cabinet expected to take place on Tuesday.

Such a move would represent a major climb-down by Mrs May after she insisted those arriving after March 2019 should not have the same rights as people who came before.


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