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Leaked emails show Arlene Foster preparing for no-deal Brexit - reports

Prime Minister Theresa May (left) and Arlene Foster (Clodagh Kilcoyne/AP)
Prime Minister Theresa May (left) and Arlene Foster (Clodagh Kilcoyne/AP)

An explosive set of leaked emails has shown DUP leader Arlene Foster preparing for a no-deal Brexit as the most likely outcome after frayed negotiations this week with the EU.

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In the exchange between senior UK officials seen by the Observer it is reported Mrs Foster sees a no-deal Brexit as the "likeliest outcome".

The DUP leader this week met with the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier to discuss Northern Ireland's post-Brexit future and a potential backstop arrangement which would maintain customs alignment between Northern Ireland and the EU - an outcome the DUP stridently opposes.

Writing in the Belfast Telegraph on Saturday, Mrs Foster said: "The EU spin on this offer suggested that Northern Ireland would have the best of both worlds ­— ie we would have full access to the EU single market and full access to the UK single market. That was a lie. We would not."

In the leaked email exchange, an adviser involved in the Brexit talks describes Mrs Foster's comments during a meeting with leader of the Conservative MEPs Ashley Fox.

"She described Barnier as being difficult and hostile in her meeting today…," the leaked exchange reads.

"AF [Arlene Foster] said the DUP were ready for a no-deal scenario, which she now believed was the likeliest one.”

It is also noted that it was not clear whether the DUP leader was threatening to pull down the confidence-and-supply arrangement with the Conservative Government, or was simply making her plans clear.

The leaked emails come amid a turbulent day for Theresa May and efforts to unite her Government behind her Brexit plan.

Writing in the Sunday Times, former Brexit secretary and high-profile Leaver David Davis has called on members of the Cabinet to rebel against Mrs May's plans.

Mr Davis has said the Brexit plan currently on the table is "completely unacceptable" and called on the Cabinet to "exert their collective authority".

Theresa May's cabinet will meet on Tuesday, with the Prime Minister expected to call for her colleague to unite and back her Brexit vision ahead of a key summit wit the EU in Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday.

The summit had been pencilled in as the deadline for an agreement on the 'divorce' terms of Britain's exit from the EU, however President of the European Council Donald Tusk has said there could now be "an extraordinary summit" in November to "finalise and formalise the deal".

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