European Union to give Barnier mandate to close Brexit deals - Financial Times

Stephen Crabb as part of his membership of the Brexit select committee met with the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier

The comments came amid open warfare in the Tory ranks following former foreign secretary Boris Johnson's comparison of the Government's Brexit strategy to placing the United Kingdom in a "suicide vest" and handing Brussels the detonator.

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, has sounded more hopeful of resolving the issue, offering to be flexible in his approach to agreeing the so-called backstop plan to avoid a hard border.

Lawmakers from the European Research Group (ERG), a grouping in May's Conservative Party which wants a sharper break with the EU, met on Tuesday night and openly discussed May's future.

In a Mail On Sunday article, he said: "We should not rush to judgment on a deal that is still under negotiation".

The BBC said those at the Tuesday night meeting which did not include all the ERG's senior figures had discussed possible scenarios depending on whether May was able to secure a deal with the European Union based on her proposals.

George Freeman said it was his view that the prime minister must "seal the deal for a new generation and hand the torch to them".

He said Mr Johnson was a member of government at the time and it was "extraordinary" that he was now taking "such an aggressive position".

The Mid-Norfolk MP said there should be a leadership contest next summer, lasting no more than three months, to determine the party's future direction, and he was prepared to throw his hat into the ring.

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Home Secretary Sajid Javid rebuked his former Cabinet colleague, saying "there are much better ways to articulate your differences".

The flurry of activity came after Mr Johnson launched a fresh attack on the PM's Brexit plan, claiming it would be "substantially worse than the status quo" for British businesses.

He told talkRADIO's Julia Hartley-Brewer: "I think that something I admire about Boris Johnson, and something that gives him huge swathes of support across the country, is the fact that Boris calls it as he sees it and people find that refreshing. If it isn't now, I will make sure it is later". "I hope that the Prime Minister will take on board what she's heard and chuck Chequers".

One source quoted by the BBC said "people feel the leadership is out of touch and has lost the plot" but another said changing the leader "is a stupid idea now".

Labour former minister David Lammy told the Press Association: "There is a growing momentum across the Labour movement, there will be tremendous pressure I think at party conference".

On that occasion, the pound climbed close to 1% when Bloomberg reported that German officials were prepared to "accept a less detailed agreement on the UK's future economic and trade ties with the European Union in a bid to get a Brexit deal done".

While talk at Westminster is of the potential for a second referendum, MPs will consider the legitimacy of the 2016 plebiscite which resulted in the historic decision to leave the EU.

If 48 letters are handed over a vote of no confidence would be triggered.

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