United Kingdom ministers have no answer on European Union trade, says Carwyn Jones

Brexit news BBC Newsnight Theresa May Northern Ireland

Ms May is being urged by senior Tories to abandon her support for a so-called "customs partnership" with the European Union, with hopes rising in Eurosceptic circles that the prime minister will switch her support to their favoured option.

The European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier told the bloc's governments Monday that separation talks with the United Kingdom remain stalled, with disagreements ranging from the Irish border to who should rule on disputes over the withdrawal agreement.

Zakharieva, who chaired the meeting as part of Bulgaria holding the six-month rotating presidency, said that the ministers are looking forward to more intensive engagement by the United Kingdom government in the coming weeks.

British transport secretary Chris Grayling last night sought to downplay fears of a hard border before failing to guarantee trade barriers will not exist.

Downing Street has repeatedly declined to set a timetable for reaching agreement on the border issue, insisting that the withdrawal agreement does not need to be finalised until October.

According to Zakharieva, "substantive progress" needs to be achieved on Ireland, governance, and all remaining separation issues by next month.

Her comment was echoed by French foreign minister Jean-Yves le Drian following talks with Mr Johnson in London.

Mr Johnson replied: "I think whatever the website used to say about the single market, it'll shortly no longer apply to the United Kingdom".

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"We need now to be making substantial progress, but that is not happening".

"Now we have to go to definitive decisions, and the responsibility for those is with the British side".

Barnier later said that there had been "a little, not very little progress" but warned that more was urgently needed.

Mr Barnier added: "The clock is ticking and we have to conclude and to finalise this agreement ... before October or November, because we have to keep the time for the ratification by the European Parliament, the European Council and the British side".

The health secretary warned that European Union negotiators would be able to exploit divisions within the cabinet as talks progress.

But a Brexiteer source told the Press Association it was "tosh" to suggest that the Union could be jeopardised and suggested that the reported "slap-down" was "Number 10-ese for "they disagreed, she said something weird and implausible".

Mr Hunt stressed that Mr Johnson's opinions were respected, adding: 'He is a marvellous foreign secretary, but let's work as a team'.

"But I think this steady, stable approach is the right one to be taking and is in the national interest".

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