Theresa May says Brexit will happen but must not be done at any cost

Theresa May has said she is confident of reaching a withdrawal deal with the EU as soon as possible but told MPs it must ‘not be done at any cost’, Downing Street said.

The Prime Minister’s top MPs will meet again before any withdrawal agreement is made.

But a spokesman for Mrs May said no extra meeting has yet been scheduled ahead of the regular cabinet meeting in Downing Street next Tuesday.

Theresa May will not accept a Brexit deal ‘at any cost’ she told her cabinet (Picture: PA)

With a Brexit deal nearing completion with Brussels, the PM is trying to secure the agreement of her cabinet to press on with finalising the terms for Brexit.

At the end of the three-hour meeting, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab left Downing Street telling reporters: ‘Thumbs up.’

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A cabinet meeting can be called at any time but it is now expected that the deal will be signed off in December’s EU summit.

Talks are stuck on finding a way to ensure there are no customs posts or checks along the border between Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland.

Mrs May faces pressure from some Cabinet members not to agree to a solution that binds Britain to EU trade rules indefinitely after it leaves the bloc in March.

May spokesman James Slack said she told the ministers ‘while the UK should aim to secure a withdrawal agreement as soon as possible, this should not be done at any cost.’

Dublin has insisted it would not accept any unilateral UK ability to end a Brexit backstop agreement on the Irish border.

The Downing Street spokesman said the cabinet ‘needs more time’ to consider mechanisms to ensure Britain cannot be bound to the EU.

The meeting of senior ministers today comes after Justice Secretary David Gauke said a no-deal EU exit would be ‘very bad’ for the UK economy.

Mr Gauke told a Channel 4 Brexit debate show: ‘If we leave on no-deal terms there’s no good shying away, it will be very bad for us economically.

‘If we can get a good deal, and that means removing all the frictions…. the Chequers-type deal, as I say, if we don’t have friction with trade, then, economically, I don’t think it’s going to make a particular big difference one way or the other.’

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - JULY 19: British Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union Dominic Raab (L) is welcomed by the European Chief Negotiator for the United Kingdom Exiting the European Union, Michel Barnier (R) prior their first bilateral meeting in the Berlaymont, the EU Commission headquarters on July 19, 2018 in Brussels, Belgium. (Photo by Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)

Brexit secretary Dominic Raab, pictured with European Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier, said ‘thumbs up’ as he left Downing Street today after a three-hour cabinet meeting (Picture: PA)

Mrs May told her cabinet colleagues that the deal was 95 per cent complete, as she told the Commons last month.

It came as shadow chancellor John McDonnell confirmed Labour would not support a temporary customs union with the EU.

Asked if Labour would vote against a customs union option unless it was permanent, Mr McDonnell told BBC2’s Newsnight: ‘Yeah, I think so, because… we’ll see what she comes back with and we will be straight and honest with people, if it doesn’t protect jobs and the economy we can’t support it.

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‘All the messages that we get back over this whole period is that our European partners desperately want what we want – a deal that will protect their jobs and their economies in the same way that we want to.

‘So, we think there’s a deal to be had if they recognise that the deal is unacceptable to Parliament, I think that opens up a vista of the opportunity of the real negotiations.’

Earlier today in the House of Commons, MPs were told they will be presented with a ‘comprehensive analysis’ of the economic impact of the Government’s final Brexit deal prior to a vote on it.

Britain's Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor David Gauke arrives at 10 Downing Street in central London for the weekly cabinet meeting on September 4, 2018. (Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images

Justice Secretary David Gauke said a no-deal EU exit would be ‘very bad’ for the UK economy (Picture: AFP/Getty)

Treasury minister Mel Stride told the Commons that the analysis would be presented in ‘good time’ prior to the crunch vote on whether to accept or reject Theresa May’s deal with the EU.

His comments came after Labour MP Christian Matheson raised concern over the impact of Brexit on public services.

Mr Matheson, speaking in Treasury questions, said: ‘The Government’s own figures demonstrate between a 2% and 8% hit on the broader economy on Brexit, so isn’t it the case that there is no form of Brexit that won’t have a massive impact on the public finances and therefore on public services?’

Mr Stride responded: ‘We are in the middle of a negotiation, at the appropriate moment when we know exactly what the deal is that is available that we have negotiated then we we will of course come forward with a full and comprehensive analysis of both the fiscal and economic impacts of that deal.’