ITV’s Robert Peston said the Treasury had indeed negotiated a “high-level” agreement with Brussels on aspects of the future partnership just hours after the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator blasted the same claims as “misleading”.
Michel Barnier took the unprecedented step on Wednesday of angrily tweeting about reports in the Times that the EU caved in to allow UK financial services continued access to the Brussels bloc after Britain’s exit.
This was followed by a furious statement by Downing Street who said the reports were speculation as Brexit talks are still ongoing.
But writing in a blog last night, political journalist Mr Peston said: “It’s true that a few weeks ago, the Treasury over the course of a couple of days successfully negotiated some ‘high level principles’ for what the future access relationship might be for UK-based banks and other financial institutions to the EU’s single market.”
However, Mr Peston said it wasn’t all good news for Britain because the nation is still a “million miles from a deal” and the agreement would see London become the “rule-taker”.
Posting on Facebook, he added: “An eventual deal would be what’s known as an ‘equivalence’ arrangement, where the rules for selling to the EU would be set by the EU – and disputes would ultimately be settled by the European Court of Justice.
“The City of London – responsible for around a tenth of national income, about the same importance to the UK as manufacturing – would be a pure rule taker.”
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1.37pm update: Margaret Thatcher’s BRILLIANT EU speech that OPENED UK eyes
The former Tory leader laid the foundations for Brexit in a fiery speech that opened Britain’s eyes and transformed a pro-European Conservative Party to one that quickly became eurosceptic.
In a fiery speech delivered to the College of Europe in 1988, the Iron Lady criticised the “new priorities” on display in Brussels and warned against the introduction of collectivism, corporatism and a single currency.
1.21pm update: Theresa May will ask Cabinet to sign off Brexit – or QUIT on Tuesday
A source “close to the process” has reportedly revealed that we could be in for a shock come Tuesday, as the Prime Minister may well ask her Cabinet to sign off on a Brexit deal.
BBC’s Brexitcast podcast host Laura Kuenssberg, said: “There’s a lot of suspicions, a cabinet source was saying to me yesterday, ‘I think maybe next Tuesday Theresa May will try and bounce everyone into a deal.’”
She continued: “The cabinet has not yet had the discussion about what to do if this is as good as it gets.
“And it was put to me by somebody who’s close to the process: it’s possible that next Tuesday might be the day when Theresa May says ‘OK, this is as good as it gets. What you gonna do?
1pm: Downing Street reacts to claims Cameron is returning to politics
Theresa May’s spokeswoman said a return to frontline politics by David Cameron would be a matter for him.
She said: “Whether he chooses to seek to return to frontline politics or not is entirely a matter for him.”
The spokeswoman added the PM and Mr Cameron “often speak”.
11.50am update: Raab has now left Warrenpoint Port
He is believed to be meeting with senior officers from the Police Service of Northern Ireland at Newry Station just a few miles from the Irish border.
SDLP South Down MLA Sinead Bradley has criticised Mr Raab’s lack of engagement with local elected representatives as “disgraceful”.
She said she received only a few hours’ notice that Mr Raab would be visiting Warrenpoint in her constituency.
Ms Bradley said: “Brexit will affect rural communities and especially border communities the most.
“For the Brexit Secretary to visit and essentially adopt the attitude of ‘we will talk about you but not to you’ really just amplified the attitude that has been used by this Executive and the Tory government. It’s absolutely disgraceful and must be called out.”
11.18am update: Strong UK-Irish relationship more important than ever
Ireland’s deputy premier said a strong UK-Irish friendship is more important than ever ahead of talks between senior Irish and UK Government ministers in Dublin.
Tanaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney and the country’s Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan are set to welcome UK Minister for the Cabinet Office David Lidington and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Karen Bradley at a meeting of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference (BIIGC) in Dublin’s Iveagh House.
In a tweet Mr Coveney said: “Looking forward to welcoming @DLidington [and] Karen Bradley to Dublin for British Irish Intergovernmental conference with me [and] @CharlieFlanagan.”
He added: “Strong UK/Irish friendship, trust [and] cooperation more NB than ever. Legacy, security coop, East-West relations [and] NI political stability all on agenda.”
The conference comes as Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab arrived in Northern Ireland on Friday morning for a one-day visit to the region. He was due to visit Stormont to meet with local political parties.
10.50am update: Raab has been accused of ‘comin in ike a thief in the night’ on his visit to Northern Ireland
South Down MP Chris Hazzard said he was not given the opportunity to engage with Mr Raab.
The Sinn Fein man has accused Mr Raab of “coming in like a thief in the night”.
He said: “I think this is the perfect illustration of the cynicism and the disrespect that the Tory government is showing towards the electorate here in South Down and Ireland in general when it comes to.
“We have some serious concerns around , the local community here are very anxious, the local business community are very anxious about what the next number of months and years is going to hold for them.
“The fact we have yet again another Tory minister not providing an opportunity to meet and engage and listen to those concerns is absolutely unacceptable.
“Dominic Raab is like a thief in the night coming in and out, not providing opportunity, not just me personally but the people I represent, and the media should have the opportunity to be able to ask the hard questions. The fact the Tories run away from this every time is telling in itself.”
10.09am update: Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab has arrived in Northern Ireland for a one-day visit to the region.
His first stop of the day is to Warrenpoint Port.
The port, on Carlingford Lough which forms part of the Irish border, ranks second in Northern Ireland behind Belfast in terms of tonnes handled in 2017.
In a private engagement closed to media, Mr Raab is due to meet workers in the port.
Later, Mr Raab will visit Stormont to meet with local political parties.
9.36am update: The pound is on course for its second best week of 2018 on optimism for a Brexit deal
The pound enjoyed its best day of the year on Thursday as a market heavily short the currency rushed to adjust to the possibility that a Brexit deal will be clinched in the coming weeks.
This removed major uncertainty overshadowing the economy and the Bank of England as it tries to bring inflation back to target .
BNP Paribas analysts said:”Were it not for Brexit uncertainty, the Bank of England would probably have laid the groundwork today for its next rate hike.”
“Once the Monetary Policy Committee gets the Brexit ‘green light’, we expect two hikes in 2019, in May and November – sooner, and by more, than markets expect.”
8.35am MPs have reacted to reports of a Cameron return
Shadow education minister Angela Rayner labelled the rumoured return of Cameron as “bizarre”.
Ms Rayner, MP for Ashton-under-Lyne, was among a series of Labour MPs who reacted to reports of the former Prime Minister fancying the job of Foreign Secretary.
The Sun reported the 52-year-old as telling friends he wanted to return to the front benches two years after leaving 10 Downing Street in the wake of the Brexit vote.
Ms Rayner tweeted: “Just when you thought politics couldn’t get anymore bizarre.
“No David please stay in retirement you caused enough damage last time.”
8.21am update: Reports David Cameron is returning to frontline politics
The former prime minister’s close friend revealed he is “bored s***less” two years on from leaving Number 10 and resigning as an MP.
A source whom the former Prime Minister confided in disclosed Mr Cameron would not rule out a return to UK politics if a future Tory leader asked him to come back.
The role Mr Cameron would assume is not entirely clear but the insider implied it could be Foreign Secretary.
Speaking to The Sun, the source said: “David is dedicated to public service, and has often said he wouldn’t rule out a public role one day, domestically or internationally.
“But he is only 52, and still a young man.”