Belfast Telegraph

Government prepared for all eventualities from Brexit talks, insists May

Theresa May has rejected suggestions by Priti Patel that the Government is ill-equipped to deal with Brexit talks, stressing they have "done a lot of preparatory works".

After resigning as international development secretary earlier this month, Ms Patel said the Government should have been more forthright in setting out its desired "end state" for the talks.

The prominent Brexiteer said the Government has been "ill-equipped in terms of preparations for the negotiations", and failed to set out the economic opportunities that Brexit presented.

When pressed for her thoughts on Ms Patel's comments, the Prime Minister, who is currently on a whistle-stop tour of the Middle East, rebuked them.

"We have done a lot of preparatory works for the Brexit talks and of course that work continues as the negotiations take place," she said.

"We have already, in terms of the resources the Government is putting into this, we have already, over the last couple of years, put something like just over £700 million into the preparations.

"And in the Budget last week, the Chancellor announced £3 billion is being put aside over the next couple of years for our preparation.

"That is preparation for all eventualities from these talks."

On the issue of the Irish border, which has emerged as a crucial sticking point in the way of Brexit negotiations moving on to phase two next month, Mrs May said talks are ongoing.

Pressed on how she will reconcile the competing demands of the Democratic Unionist Party and the Republic of Ireland in time to move discussions forward before December, Mrs May said all sides want to ensure there is no hard border.

"We are talking with the Irish Government and continue to do so," Mrs May said.

"All parties involved in this don't want to see a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

"I think there are a number of ways we can ensure that for the future, and I look forward to having more detailed discussions on that when we move into phase two of the negotiations."

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