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Theresa May will urge EU to be flexible over Brexit talks

The Prime Minister will say the UK can get a deal to prove the anti-Brexit "doomsayers" wrong

Theresa May will call for flexibility from the European Union over its approach to the Brexit negotiations as she seeks a breakthrough on her push for trade talks.

The Prime Minister will say the UK can get a deal to prove the anti-Brexit "doomsayers" wrong as she attempts to use a Commons statement to move on from her mishap-hit conference speech and the attempted coup against her leadership.

Mrs May will tell the EU "the ball is in their court" as talks resume between the UK's negotiators and Michel Barnier's team of Brussels officials.

European leaders will decide later this month whether sufficient progress has been made in the first stage of the Brexit talks, including the so-called divorce bill, to move on to talks on the future trading relationship and any potential "implementation period" for the new arrangements.

But it appears unlikely that the EU will agree that enough progress has been made on the initial phase - which also includes citizens' rights and the border between the UK and Republic of Ireland - to begin talks on the post-Brexit relationship.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has said it will take miracles for enough progress to have been made by the meeting of leaders on October 19-20, while the European Parliament overwhelmingly passed a non-binding motion declaring that more needed to be done.

Mrs May will appear before MPs to update them on her speech in Florence which, while failing to secure a breakthrough, has been welcomed by EU leaders for its constructive tone.

She will say: "A new, deep and special partnership between a sovereign United Kingdom and a strong and successful European Union is our ambition and our offer to our European friends.

"Achieving that partnership will require leadership and flexibility, not just from us but from our friends, the 27 nations of the EU.

"And as we look forward to the next stage, the ball is in their court. But I am optimistic we will receive a positive response.

"Because what we are seeking is not just the best possible deal for us - but also the best possible deal for our European friends too."

She will acknowledge that "progress will not always be smooth" but will seek to strike a positive note about the Brexit process.

"By approaching these negotiations in a constructive way - in a spirit of friendship and co-operation and with our sights firmly set on the future - I believe we can prove the doomsayers wrong," she will say.

"I believe we can seize the opportunities of this defining moment in the history of our nation."

The Prime Minister will also attempt to reassure business leaders that the Brexit process is on track as she hosts a meeting with leading industry figures on Monday.

She will be joined by senior colleagues including Chancellor Philip Hammond and Brexit Secretary David Davis at the meeting in Downing Street.

Representatives from firms including Aston Martin, HSBC, Morgan Stanley and Vodafone will be among those attending the meeting of the Business Advisory Council.

The meeting follows warnings from RBS chairman Sir Howard Davies that the damage to the City from Brexit is "going to be quite considerable over time".

And it comes as the British Retail Consortium warns that consumers could face rising prices and slower deliveries unless non-graduate EU migrants are able to continue working in the sector after Brexit.

Senior backbencher Bernard Jenkin, chairman of the steering committee of the European Research Group of MPs, said Britain should take a tougher line on exit talks.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that Mrs May would have wide support if she returned from this month's EU summit saying the UK had "had enough" of talks.

Mr Jenkin said: "She will be cheered to the echo if she were to say 'Look, I've had enough of this, we are going to get ready to leave on 2019. We are going to spend the money we need to be ready to leave in March 2019, but if the European Union wants to come back to the table and talk to us about what kind of relationship they want with us in the long term, then we are ready to talk'."

The leading Leave supporter said the Treasury had an "institutional mindset" when it came to Brexit, but insisted he was not making a personal attack on the Chancellor.

He said: "The Prime Minister should use the authority of her office to impose what she wants on the Cabinet."

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