Conservatives and Labour hold 'secret talks' to plot soft Brexit

Labour and Tory MPs have met in secret to engineer a softer Brexit after Theresa May’s election disaster (PA Images)

Senior Conservatives and Labour MPs have met in secret to discuss cross-party backing for a softer Brexit.

Ministers in Theresa May’s cabinet have been involved in talks about how to secure concessions on the single market, immigration and the customs union, it has emerged.

Mrs May, who is currently involved in discussions with the DUP to form a minority government, is being urged by Labour MPs and members of her own party to compromise her hard Brexit stance.

DUP leader Arlene Foster, despite being pro-Brexit, is said to be pursuing a softer Brexit agenda based on the DUP’s desire to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

MORE: What demands are on the DUP wishlist?
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Pressure on the Prime Minister to involve other parties in Brexit negotiations is growing after her party’s humiliating failure to secure a majority in last week’s general election.

Arlene Foster and Theresa May are negotiating the future of the government (PA Images)

Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, admitted: ‘This isn’t just going to be a Tory Brexit.’

Breaking party ranks, she told BBC News: ‘I’m suggesting that the Conservative Party works with those both within the House of Commons and with people without to ensure that as we leave the EU, we have a Brexit that works for the economy and puts that first.

Negotiations are scheduled to begin on 19 June, but Brexit Secretary David Davis ahs admitted the date may have to be pushed back as Theresa May struggles to form a viable government.

The European Union’s top negotiator Michel Barnier has warned the UK to stop wasting time and to get on with Brexit negotiations, three months after Article 50 was triggered.

He told the Financial Times: ‘The subjects we need to deal with are extraordinarily complex from a technical, judicial and financial point of view.

‘That’s why we’re ready to start very quickly. I can’t negotiate with myself.’

Mr Barnier also tressed that the bloc was not looking to punish Britain during the talks.

He said: ‘I’ll say it clearly: there’s no spirit of revenge, no punishment, no naivety either.’

The Prime Minister was forced to personally apologise to Conservative MPs on Monday night after her decision to call a snap election saw her lose a majority in the Commons.

She took responsibility for the subsequent ‘mess’ and told the party: ‘I’ll get us out of it.’

The Tories are now expected to water down or scrap a number of their manifesto pledges, including cuts to winter fuel payments and scrapping the pension triple lock.