Theresa May has reportedly secured a ‘secret’ Brexit deal that will keep all of the UK in a customs union and avoid a hard border with Northern Ireland.
According to the Sunday Times, the private concessions will prevent the need for Northern Ireland to be treated differently to the rest of the UK – and avoid an Irish backstop.
The publication states that the arrangement will will also include an ‘exit clause’ that will aim at convincing Brexiteers that remaining in the customs union is only temporary.
It is said that the Prime Minister hopes the agreement will placate remain-backing Tories and win over some Labour MPs.
The Sunday Times also adds that preparations for a final deal are more advanced than currently publicised, with a document of 50 pages or more potentially on the cards.
The publication added that Mrs May’s cabinet could be discussing the plans on Tuesday and are hoping to make enough progree by Friday for the EU to announce a special summit.
Downing Street has called the reports speculation, but also claim that the majority of the UK’s Brexit plan had already been agreed.
A spokesperson said: ‘The prime minister has been clear that we are making good progress on the future relationship and 95 percent of the withdrawal agreement is now settled and negotiations are ongoing.’
Reports of a secret Brexit deal come just as more than 70 business leaders signed a letter calling for a second referendum after warning that a bad deal could threaten the UK jobs industry.
Chief Executives from Waterstones, Innocent Drinks and Lastminute.com stated that the UK faces either a ‘blindfold or a destructive hard Brexit’ in the note.
‘They will be bad for business and bad for working people,’ the letter said.
‘Given that neither was on the ballot in 2016, we believe the ultimate choice should be handed back to the public with a People’s Vote.’
Other people who put their name to the letter include Cobra Beer founder Lord Bilimoria, former Marks and Spencer chairman and ex-Labour peer Lord Myners, Alex Chesterman, founder of the Zoopla property website, and Sir Simon Robertson, the ex-chairman of Rolls-Royce.
The signatories are all acting in personal capacities.
But the government’s Brexit department stated that they are confident there will be a deal that works for businesses – and reiterated their stance against a People’s Vote.
‘The people of the United Kingdom have already had their say in one of the biggest democratic exercises this country has ever seen and the prime minister has made it clear that there is not going to be a second referendum,’ a spokesman said.