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May faces ANOTHER last-ditch dash to Brussels as EU leaders threaten to cancel summit amid fears disputes over Gibraltar and fishing will see them TORPEDO her deal - as Hunt warns her it is a 'Turkey trap' that will mire UK in talks for YEARS

May faces ANOTHER last-ditch dash to Brussels as EU leaders threaten to cancel summit amid fears disputes over Gibraltar and fishing will see them TORPEDO her deal - as Hunt warns her it is a 'Turkey trap' that will mire UK in talks for YEARS

Theresa May announced last night she would return to Brussels on Saturday for last ditch talks on saving her Brexit deal after failing to make a breakthrough with Jean-Claude Juncker.

The emergency meeting on Saturday has been scheduled despite German chancellor Angela Merkel threatening to cancel the summit if there is no deal finalised by negotiators tomorrow. 

The EU insisted 'good progress' was being made as the two sides try and close a deal in time for a crunch summit on Sunday - but bickering over Gibraltar, trade and fishing rights threaten to derail the talks. 

It comes after Jeremy Hunt said Theresa May's Brexit proposals could put Britain in a 'Turkey trap' with the EU for years to come. 

The Foreign Secretary told last week’s crucial Cabinet meeting that Turkey had been negotiating with the EU for 31 years – and Britain risked the same. He said the ‘backstop’ that will keep Britain in a customs union with the EU could become a ‘front stop’.

He also called for ‘incentives’ to avoid the status of a satellite of the EU.

But following her meeting in Brussels, Mrs May said: 'We have made further progress and as a result, we have given sufficient direction to our negotiators.

'I hope for them to be able to resolve the remaining issues and that work will start immediately.

'I now plan to return for further meetings, including with President Juncker, on Saturday to discuss how we can bring to a conclusion this process and bring it to a conclusion in the interests for all our people.'  

Mrs May refused to spell out the issues that still need to be resolved in order for the two sides to close a deal as the talks go down to the wire.   

Chancellor Philip Hammond said Brexit would be thrown into chaos if Parliament voted down Mrs May's plans next month, saying: 'If this deal is rejected, we're in unknown territory. It could be no deal, but it could be no Brexit.

'I can't put a number on it but it's clear that if the deal is not approved by Parliament we will have a politically chaotic situation and we don't know what the outcome of that will be. 

'For those who are passionately committed to ensuring that we leave the EU on the 29th of March 2019 one of the things that they are going to have to bear in mind is that in the chaos that would ensue there would be no Brexit.'

Asked about Brexiteer fears that the Irish backstop could keep Britain in the customs union indefinitely, he said: 'The first choice is to get the future partnership deal done in time that we can move straight into that from the implementation period. It's challenging, but let's try. 

'[The EU] don't like the backstop either. This is an insurance policy arrangement that nobody wants to see put into operation.'

Mr Hammond also rejected the claim it was 'embarrassing' to publish an economic comparison between the Brexit deal and staying in the EU, which could show Mrs May's plans leaving Britain worse off.

He said: 'This isn't only about economics. I'm the Chancellor so I look at the economic aspects of Brexit as being of very high importance. But I accept that there are also political and constitutional questions that people want to pursue in this debate.' 

Asked about preparations for no deal he said: 'All governments regularly spend money planning for contingencies that may never happen, and that's what prudent governments do.

'When we look at the economy and the operation of the economy, getting a smooth exit from the European Union, doing this in an orderly fashion, is worth tens of billions of pounds to our economy.'

Earlier, Mr Juncker's deputy Valdis Dombrovskis warned that Sunday's summit would not definitely go ahead. 'For that we will need to have agreed beforehand on the political declaration on the future relationship and we are not there yet,' he said.

Asked if Mrs May was still going, her spokesman said this afternoon: 'A summit has been called, an agenda has been published and we look forward to attending.' 

Following talks an EU spokesman said: 'Very good progress was made in the meeting between President Juncker and Prime Minister Theresa May. Work is continuing.'

As she flew to Brussels, Mrs May left behind a row raging about the prospect of no deal after Work and Pensions Secretary said it would be stopped by Parliament - prompting anger from Brexiteers the mission to quit the EU could be derailed.  

Mrs May has managed to quell a Cabinet mutiny over the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement - albeit at the cost of two big resignations.

A backbench coup attempt led by Jacob Rees-Mogg has also embarrassingly flopped.

But she has been warned by ministers that she must get concessions alongside the text to avoid a catastrophic defeat in Parliament. 

One Brexiteer Cabinet minister suggested that rather than re-drafting the deal, appendices or explanatory notes could be added to make it more palatable.

'There are lots of ways of changing something without changing something,' they said.

'You can do a lot with addenda.'

However, Spain has threatened to torpedo the agreement unless Gibraltar is dealt with separately - while other countries are also pushing hard on elements of the future trade package.

The outstanding elements include access to UK waters for European fishing vessels - while Germany is adamant that the trade terms cannot allow Britain to cherry pick the best parts of EU membership.

The assault from the EU came as domestic pressure on Mrs May reached new heights. 

With the number of Tory MPs pledging to vote against the package continuing to rise alarmingly, chief whip Julian Smith has privately told the PM she is set to lose unless there are significant tweaks.

The scale of the threat facing Mrs May was underlined last night when the DUP again abstained on Budget legislation - humiliatingly forcing the government to accept Opposition amendments.  

Mrs May is pushing for a draft 'political statement' on the UK's future relationship with Europe to be fleshed out this week to make it clear that Britain will get a good deal in return for the £39billion divorce payment.

Some allies of the Prime Minister believe that the fear of no deal will ultimately persuade MPs to reluctantly back her Brexit proposals when Parliament holds a 'meaningful vote' next month.

But Mr Smith is said to be concerned that opposition to the deal is hardening. 

Some 56 Eurosceptic MPs have now signed up to the 'Stand up for Brexit' campaign which commits them to voting down any deal based on Mrs May's Chequers proposals.

Worryingly for Mrs May, high-profile Tory Remainers are also promising them to vote against, with the latest names including Culture Committee chair Damian Collins. 

New Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd insisted today that she still expects Mrs May's Withdrawal Agreement to make it through Parliament - warning that if MPs vote it down Brexit may not happen. 

Asked whether it is not clear that the deal will not get through the Commons, Ms Rudd told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'I don't accept that at all.' 

She called on MPs considering voting against the deal to take a fresh look at it after Mrs May returns from Brussels and to draw back from the 'abyss' of a no-deal departure. 

'If it doesn't get through, anything could happen,' said Ms Rudd, who was promoted to the Cabinet last week following the resignation of Leave supporter Esther McVey. 

'The Brexiteers may lose their Brexit.

'It is my view that the House of Commons will stop no-deal. There isn't a majority in the House of Commons to allow that to take place.' 

But she added: 'I don't think we are looking at another referendum. I think people will take a careful look over the abyss - MPs of all parties - and consider whether they think it is in the best interests of the whole country. 

'I think the likelihood is, despite what people say, that the Withdrawal Agreement will get through.'

The deal is due to be signed off by EU leaders at a crunch Brussels summit on Sunday.

The source said the document was expected to run to about 20 pages. 'Juncker and May will sort it out,' the insider added.

France demanding access to fish in Britain's waters even after Brexit and want the UK to agree to sign up to the bloc's tough environmental standards - including changes made in the future after Brexit.

While Spain has threatened to bock the Brexit divorce deal in a row about Gibraltar - a British overseas territory which the Spanish try to lay claim to.

The PM tried to calm Brexiteer jitters by reviving plans for a technological solution to the Irish border problem during an extended Cabinet discussion. 

The so-called 'Max Fac' plan was dumped at Chequers in July, but Downing Street said the deal with Brussels could allow for future technology to remove the need for border checks. 

The suggestion was said to have been welcomed 'positively' by some senior Eurosceptics. 

However, others pointed out that the Irish border 'backstop' would still be in the divorce deal - meaning that is the default position. 

Bank of England governor Mark Carney threw his weight behind the PM's Brexit deal and warned of disruption if the agreement collapses.

France demanded further concessions on fishing, saying the EU had to make it clear that Brexit would have 'consequences' for the UK. 

Emergency EU Summit, Brussels, November 25

What will happen? The EU has scheduled a summit to sign off the Brexit deal covering the withdrawal and future trade - although there are fears that last minute wrangling over issues such as fishing rights and Gibraltar could derail the event altogether.

If it is cancelled the negotiating teams will keep working until they are in position to put an overall agreement to leaders - or they conclude the situation is hopeless. 

The next routine EU summit is due to happen on December 13-14.

However, by that point time will be on the verge of running out - as both sides need to ratify the deal before March.

The so-called 'meaningful vote' in the UK Parliament, December 2019

What will happen: Assuming a deal is reached, a debate, probably over more than one day, will be held in the House of Commons on terms of the deal.

It will end with a vote on whether or not MPs accept the deal. More than one vote might happen if MPs are allowed to table amendments.

The vote is only happening after MPs forced the Government to accept a 'meaningful vote' in Parliament on the terms of the deal.

What happens if May wins? If the meaningful vote is passed, there will be a series of further votes as the withdrawal treaty is written into British law.

It will be a huge political victory for the Prime Minister and probably secure her version of Brexit.

What happens if she loses? This is possibly the most dangerous stage of all. 

The Prime Minister will have to stake her political credibility on winning a vote and losing it would be politically devastating. 

Brexiteers do not want to sign off the divorce bill without a satisfactory trade deal and Remainers are reluctant to vote for a blind Brexit.

She could go back to Brussels to ask for new concessions before a second vote but many think she would have to resign quickly. 

Ratification in the EU, February 2019 

What will happen? After the meaningful vote in the UK, the EU will have to ratify the agreement.

The European Parliament must also vote in favour of the deal. It has a representative in the talks, Guy Verhofstadt, who has repeatedly warned the deal must serve the EU's interests.

Will it be agreed? In practice, once the leaders of the 27 member states have agreed a deal, ratification on the EU side should be assured.

If the deal has passed the Commons and she is still in office, this should not be dangerous for the Prime Minister. 

Exit day, March 29, 2019 

At 11pm on March 29, 2019, Britain will cease to be a member of the European Union, two years after triggering Article 50 and almost three years after the referendum. 

Exit happens at 11pm because it must happen on EU time.

If the transition deal is in place, little will change immediately - people will travel in the same way as today and goods will cross the border normally. 

But Britain's MEPs will no longer sit in the European Parliament and British ministers will no longer take part in EU meetings.

Negotiations will continue to turn the political agreement on the future partnership into legal text that will eventually become a second treaty. Both sides will build new customs and immigration controls in line with what this says.

Transition ends, December 2020

The UK's position will undergo a more dramatic change at the end of December 2020, when the 'standstill' transition is due to finish.

If the negotiations on a future trade deal are complete, that could come into force.

But if they are still not complete the Irish border 'backstop' plan could be triggered.

Under current thinking, that means the UK staying in the EU customs union and more regulatory checks between mainland Britain and Northern Ireland.

Eurosceptics fear this arrangement will prevent the country striking trade deals elsewhere, and could effectively last for ever, as Brussels will have no incentive to negotiate a replacement deal. 

Source: https://www.dailymail.co.uk

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