European Union could reject Theresa May's soft border proposals, Tanaiste says

But she admitted City firms would lose their crucial "passporting" rights to trade across the European Union because that was "intrinsic to the single market of which we would no longer be a member".

Stephen Martin, head of the Institute of Directors, said "business leaders will welcome the prime minister's honest admission that negotiating the future U.K. -EU relationship will involve making hard choices".

She defended her position by saying Britain could not become a "rule taker" when it came to financial services.

"We both want good access to each other's markets".

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, EU Exit Secretary David Davis and Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom were understood to be among ministers resisting the move.

But May also said a mutually beneficial future relationship is possible, and she urged European Union leaders to work with her to deliver a "bold and comprehensive economic partnership". British Prime Minister Theresa May gave a speech on what her government is looking for, to which some responded that what how she will achieve those goals is still anything but clear.

Listing her tests, she will say they comprise of "implementing the decision of the British people; reaching an enduring solution; protecting our security and prosperity; delivering an outcome that is consistent with the kind of country we want to be; and bringing our country together, strengthening the precious union of all our people".

The EU has accused the British prime minister of "cherry-picking" once again.

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He added: "It will be painful for the country as a result".

"But it was not a vote for a distant relationship with our neighbours".

Also addressing the Business Europe forum in Brussels on Thursday, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier urged company bosses to prepare for Britain's departure and issued a new warning that a status-quo, two-year transition period was not yet agreed and might not be guaranteed for another year.

"What I am seeking is a relationship that goes beyond the transactional, to one where we support each other's interests", May said.

In response to Corbyn portraying Labour's vision of Brexit as one "for the many, not the few", she quoted her own soaring rhetoric on a similarly bogus theme when taking office eighteen months ago.

In contrast, Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, backed Mrs May in a series of tweets, saying: "The PM's Mansion House speech sets out a clear and convincing vision for our future partnership with the European Union".

But Heidi Allen, who also signed the amendment, tweeted: "I'm greatly encouraged by PM's speech - categorically said WTO not acceptable, no hard border in, citizens to continue to work and study across UK/EU, science participation, mutual regs for eg medicine, data sharing and tariff-free customs arrangement #RoadtoBrexit". Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also stole a march by assuring the business community that under his premiership, the United Kingdom would remain in the customs union.

The EU official called Tusk's lunch with May "an open and honest debate in a good atmosphere about the real political difficulties ahead of us".


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