Brexit secretary doesn't see need for long extension

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"The UK would be free to leave whenever it is ready and the EU-27 would avoid repeated Brexit summits", Tusk added before saying that a longer extension would allow the UK to rethink its Brexit strategy.

European Council president Donald Tusk is recommending a longer delay of up to a year - with an option of leave earlier if there is an agreement in the Commons.

The Prime Minister outlined the steps the government is taking to bring the Brexit process to a successful conclusion, and updated Chancellor Merkel on the ongoing discussions with the Opposition.

However Mrs Merkel, who met Mrs May in Berlin on Tuesday ahead of the Brussels summit, suggested they "may well" go for a longer delay, although the United Kingdom would be allowed to leave "very quickly" if Parliament approves a withdrawal deal. It would allow Britain to leave at any point within that period.

The Prime Minister has asked the European Union to delay Britain's departure until June 30 - provoking a fierce backlash from her Eurosceptic backbenchers - but her proposal is likely to get short shrift.

Wednesday's summing comes after MPs voted by 420-110 to approve a motion to seek an Article 50 extension and delay the date of Brexit to 30 June.

Although no consensus has yet been reached between the ruling Conservatives and their rivals, the Labour Party, both said later there was hope of progress being made.

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Chancellor Philip Hammond and environment secretary Michael Gove led the talks for the government, with their opposite numbers John McDonnell and Sue Hayman among the Labour delegation.

With Labour support growing slightly, Jeremy Corbyn ill be cheered that his talks with the PM to solve the Brexit deadlock have not done his - or his party's - brand any harm.

Liam Fox, the global trade secretary, sent a letter Tuesday to leading Conservatives that a customs union for Britain would be the "worst of both worlds" and would leave Britain unable to set its own trade policy.

Cross-party talks between the government and Labour have ben described by Downing Street as " productive and wide-ranging", while Labour said: "We have yet to see the clear shift in the Government's position that is needed to secure a compromise agreement". "We are prepared", he said.

Fox claimed countries that negotiated new free trade agreements with the European Union would have automatic access to the British market with Britain having no reciprocal access.

The Conservatives and Labour have abandon Brexit talks until Thursday after failing to reach an agreement, just a day before Theresa May asks the European Union for another delay to the UK's withdrawal.

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