Cabinet close to unveiling Brexit deal plans

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The Cabinet is close to unveiling formal proposals for a trade and customs deal with the European Union after an intensive round of discussions – some conducted from ministers’ holiday homes.

Keynote plans for a future relationship with the European single market and Customs Union will form the first in a series of “position papers” beginning next week, sources have revealed.

Cabinet ministers have been working through the summer break to agree broad details – in some cases by emails to and from their sun loungers.

Prime Minister Theresa May will begin releasing the papers after she returns from walking in the Swiss Alps and a break in Lake Garda, northern Italy.  

Senior ministers including Brexit Secretary David Davis, Chancellor Philip Hammond and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox are already back in Whitehall although Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, is keeping in touch during a break. “The business of government does not stop in the summer,” said a source.

Downing Street is keeping the contents and timing of the papers secret but officials say there will be a stream of landmark documents during August, leading up to Commons debates on the withdrawal Bill in September.

There have been signs since July that ministers are prepared to agree on a transition, or implementation period, of up to three years, followed by a trade deal similar to membership of the European Economic Area.

Further papers are expected in August covering fraught issues like the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. 

A row was looming this afternoon between the UK and Scottish Governments over what powers currently held in Brussels will be handed to the devolved Scottish executive.

First Secretary of State Damian Green was in talks with Nicola Sturgeon’s deputy John Swinney.

The Sottish Nationalists have accused Westminster of a “power grab” covering more than 100 policy areas.

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