UK to sign Swiss trade deal as heat grows on Liam Fox

British Prime Minister Theresa May meets Ireland's Prime Minister Leo Varadkar

British Prime Minister Theresa May meets Ireland's Prime Minister Leo Varadkar

She hopes to get Brussels to agree to revisions, but so far the European Union, with the united support of all the other 27 member countries, has refused to reopen negotiations on the text of the 585-page agreement.

Mr Corbyn's demand is for a customs union that gives the United Kingdom a say on future trade deals the EU might strike - something Brussels appears unlikely to accept.

The UK has signed similar deals to continue its current trading terms with Chile, Madagascar, Mauritius, the Seychelles, Zimbabwe, and the tiny Faroe Islands.

After the British parliament rejected the Brexit withdrawal agreement in January, German carmakers urged the British government not to leave the bloc without a trade deal.

MPs voted to replace the controversial backstop with "alternative arrangements" in a vote on amendments to the PM's Brexit deal last month.

Opponents of a no-deal Brexit inside her cabinet and on the Tory backbenches want to hear confirmation from the prime minister that any motion she tables then will be amendable.

She acknowledged the process "is not going to be easy" but insisted, "I am going to deliver Brexit".

Those countries aren't European Union members, but belong to the much-smaller EEA EFTA group.




Seven of Britain's top 10 export markets are in the European Union, with Germany second behind the United States.

MPs on all sides of the House of Commons are concerned that Mrs May is planning to run down the clock to Britain's scheduled exit day on March 29, risking a potentially disastrous divorce without an agreement in place.

He said a no-deal Brexit must be avoided at all costs and called for exit day - dubbed by Brexiters as "Independence Day" - to be pushed back to make sure lawmakers are not bounced in March into voting for May's "very bad deal" so as to avoid the worse fate of leaving without an agreement.

The accord follows a Swiss "Mind the Gap" strategy developed after British voters approved Brexit. It covers issues like free trade, public procurement, agriculture and the fight against fraud.

The prime minister wrote a conciliatory letter to opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, after he proposed setting her a new deadline of February 26 for winning MPs' backing for a final exit deal.

Justice Minister Rory Stewart told the BBC on Monday that differences between the two aren't as great as some suggest, but the government can't accept a customs union that would prevent Britain from negotiating trade deals with other countries.

A "hard" departure without a deal would see tariffs imposed at the border, "tangling up global supply chains", study co-author Oliver Holtemoeller said in a statement.

The prime minister is due to update parliament this week on the progress of her latest talks with the EU.

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