Jeremy Corbyn dangerously deluded on customs union, say Brexiteers

EU President Antonio Tajani and British Prime Minister Theresa May

The Leave campaign figurehead was speaking as Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay prepared for talks with European Union chief negotiator Michel Barnier as the Government stepped up efforts to secure changes to the backstop, which is created to keep the Irish border open after the UK's withdrawal.

The Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade, The Rt Hon Dr Liam Fox MP, signed the UK-Switzerland agreement in Bern today (Monday 11th February) with Swiss Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin.

It comes as ministers rush to ensure the continuity of about 40 free trade deals held by the European Union covering more than 70 countries, which Britain now has access to via European Union membership but will lose after Brexit.

The Labour leader wrote to the PM on Wednesday with a list of five demands to secure his party's support for her deal, including a permanent customs union.

Mrs Leadsom said there was "no chance" Mrs May would adopt Mr Corbyn's "view of the world", adding: "The Prime Minister has been absolutely clear we're leaving the EU, we're leaving the customs union, we're leaving the single market".

"We're very concerned because a hard Brexit is going to create as situation where WTO tariffs which are on average 22% so it's going to lead to increases in costs for businesses and it's going to lead to increases in cost for consumers and that's going to hit workers", he said.

Last week, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn set out the conditions under which he would instruct his party to support an exit deal in parliament.

Time pressure is mounting.

British Prime Minister Theresa May

She told Mr Corbyn: "It is good to see that we agree that the United Kingdom should leave the European Union with a deal and that the urgent task at hand is to find a deal that honours our commitments to the people of Northern Ireland, can command support in Parliament and can be negotiated with the EU - not to seek an election or second referendum".

Britain has long traded around the world under the terms of deals agreed by the European Union, a procedure that will come to an end after Brexit. "This orderly withdrawal is the prerequisite that we need to build a. future relationship", he said.

Lawmakers may be unnerved by the latest round of financial data, which showed Monday that Britain's economy slowed a year ago to its weakest growth rate since the global financial crisis.

The Office for National Statistics said gross domestic product growth fell to 0.2 per cent between October and December 2018, driven by a 1.1 per cent drop in manufacturing output.

In the fourth quarter, British business investment fell 1.4 percent for the fourth straight quarterly decline - the first time that has happened since the 2008 financial crisis.

Theresa May is due to update the Commons later on the latest developments in negotiations with Brussels and Dublin, as the sides try to find a way through the impasse on measures for the Irish border.

Although Britain's Treasury chief Philip Hammond argued the British economy remains "fundamentally strong" and is "enjoying the longest unbroken quarterly growth streak" among the Group of Seven industrialised countries, he conceded that Brexit unease was taking its toll. "I'm afraid this has gone on longer than we would have liked".

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