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Change of Prime Minister 'not on the agenda' - Chris Grayling

20 June 2017

"I ve got serious members in my constituency texting me saying: You ve got to get rid of her quickly because every time she appears she s making the party more toxic, the MP told the newspaper".

Such is the collapse of May's authority that her entire Brexit strategy is being picked apart in public by her ministers, her lawmakers and her allies on the eve of formal negotiations which begin in Brussels on Monday at 0900 GMT. "We want an arrangement to allow us to tie up the mechanics of leaving the European Union, we want to have a sensible trading partnership and we want to give businesses certainty that there isn't going to be a cliff-edge". "(Davis) has shown a "huge evolution", a Western diplomat said, adding that the Brexit minister seemed to be well on top of his brief. We would have to work out what that looked like. But the disastrous outcome of the June 8 snap election, which left her without a majority in the House of Commons, has raised doubts over whether she will even be able to see the two-year process through.

"Both sides will also discuss the structure of the negotiations and the issues that need to be addressed over the coming months".

May has said she is open to some kind of association agreement with the customs union and wants to avoid any so-called "cliff-edge" into uncertain trading conditions, but she has also said Britain must be able to control immigration - something it can not do while a member of the EU.

With May still hammering out the details of a post-election deal to stay in power with the support of a small Northern Irish party, there are fears of a disorderly exit that would weaken the West, imperil Britain's $2.5 trillion economy and undermine London's position as the only financial centre to rival NY.

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One European diplomat in London said the political upheaval was such that it was hard to know what to write back to his capital, pouring scorn on May's campaign slogan of "strong and stable leadership".

"But it's not very strong and stable".

So far, he has been successful in that job, making clear the European single market's "four freedoms", including free movement, are indivisible and forcing Mrs May to confirm her intention to pull the United Kingdom out to get control of immigration.

"It will mean we can work together to deliver a successful Brexit deal and a strong social legislative programme that delivers justice and opportunity to everyone".

She has really hacked off the parliamentary party for obvious reasons. At a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Luxembourg, he said: "The most important thing for us is to look to the horizon, raise our eyes to the horizon".

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While Britain's economy has shown unexpected resilience since the Brexit vote, there are signs of weakness.

Leading Eurosceptic MPs have told The Telegraph they are prepared to mount an immediate leadership challenge if May deviates from her original plan of a hard Brexit. "It's a bit of a dog's breakfast at the moment because there is a lot of manoeuvring and a lot of moving parts".

The arch-federalist former Belgian PM, who this year published a book calling on EU states to forge "a more ideal Union", warned last week Britain could lose its rebate and opt-outs if it changes its mind and decides to stay.

"We've agreed to talk about the right of European Union citizens, which we've said all along is a priority for us, right at the start".

The extent of Britain's exit bill needs to be decided, with the EU27 expected to seek tens of billions of euros they see as London's fair share of programmes to which it has committed.

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But Britain says it has been "crystal clear" that both withdrawal and future relations should be agreed at the same time. We are talking about a confidence and supply agreement with them.