Theresa May to give Brexit update after talks break down

Aubrey Allegretti, political reporter

Theresa May will give an update on Brexit negotiations this afternoon, a day after high-level talks between the UK and EU broke down after little more than an hour.

The prime minister is looking to reassure her minority government partners the DUP that a proposed "backstop" keeping Northern Ireland aligned with the EU to avoid a hard border would be time-limited.

"We need to be able to look the British people in the eye and say the backstop is a temporary solution," her spokesman said on Monday.

He said Brussels "continues to insist" on the possibility of a customs border down the Irish Sea.

Mrs May will make a statement to MPs later today, after pressure to explain why Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab was rushed to Brussels last night.

Speculation had mounted the summons could spell a final deal between the two sides, after the EU's lead negotiator Michel Barnier said a deal was "possible" this month.

Mrs May's spokesperson refused to give "granular details" on the negotiations, but said the prime minister remains "confident" of getting a Brexit deal.

"There are a number of means of achieving what we want on the backstop," the spokesman said.

Mr Barnier also declined comment after the breakdown, only telling Sky News: "Be patient."

Speaking in Luxembourg, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said there were "one or two very difficult outstanding issues but I think we can get there".

"Whether we do this week or not, who knows?​​​​​​" he asked.

Penny Mordaunt, the international development secretary, added "everyone needs to calm down".

Labour are pressing for more detail, saying MPs need to be able to scrutinise the progress and sticking points.

"We need to know what the proposal is they're falling out about," shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer told Sky News.

"It's a very serious situation we arrived at last night, where people were hoping for a breakthrough and we got the opposite."

Irish President Leo Varadkar also urged both sides to "get down to business", adding he was keen to see a deal by November.

Meanwhile, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is seeking to pile pressure on Mrs May by setting out her own "common sense" alternative Brexit plan.

When there is more clarity from the UK government, she said in a speech on Monday, Scotland must have the option to choose a different course.