Government to miss Brexit trade deal target

Brexit,Theresa May

May urges U.K. legislators to allow more time to get Brexit deal

British Prime Minister Theresa May has again rejected calls for the United Kingdom to remain in a customs union with the European Union after the country leaves the bloc - but said she remains open to further talks with the opposition Labour Party as the clock ticks toward a potential no-deal Brexit.

In a letter to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn dated Sunday, May opposed his party's appeal for the country to remain in a customs union with Brussels.

The head of business lobby group the Confederation of British Industry warned that the chances of Britain leaving the European Union next month without a deal have increased and the country has now entered "the emergency zone".

She hopes to get Brussels to agree to revisions, but so far the European Union, with the united support of all the other 27 member countries, has refused to reopen negotiations on the text of the 585-page agreement.

The UK and Switzerland have signed a deal to continue trading after Brexit as they did before it.

Global trade secretary Liam Fox said the agreement would provide a "solid foundation" for a post-Brexit trading relationship.

However, the same source confirmed that talks with South Korea, one of the UK's most important overseas trading partners, have stuttered and are "very unlikely" to be finished by the end of March.

Last month, Parliament voted in favour of an amendment that supported most of the PM's deal but called for backstop - which is a last-resort option to prevent a hard border in Ireland - to be replaced with "alternative arrangements". "Without an orderly and practical solution for business, jobs in the auto industry, particularly on the British side, are on the line".

The move is aimed at postponing a rebellion by ministers who want to remove the possibility a no-deal Brexit. But a member of May's cabinet pledged Sunday to give parliament a further ballot two weeks later - a measure meant to give the premier more time for talks with the EU.

Corbyn's proposal has infuriated many of his own lawmakers, the majority of whom are Remainers.

Bowing to pressure from his party, Corbyn appears to have endorsed a plan by pro-EU Labour lawmakers that would stop May running down the clock and offering parliament the last-minute stark choice of leaving without a deal or voting for her unpopular withdrawal agreement.

If London and Brussels manage to reach a deal for an orderly Brexit, the bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the European Union will continue to apply to Britain until the end of the transition period, the statement said.

Meanwhile, the British parliament is preparing for a Brexit debate on Thursday in which amendments to May's deal are expected to be tabled.

But he insists the legally-binding divorce agreement between them can't be renegotiated.

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