Angela Merkel 'curious' about UK's Brexit plan, but not 'frustrated'

The Prime Minister

Theresa May, who is to discuss Brexit with German chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Friday, has said she wants to include financial services in a free trade deal.

During a trip to Berlin, May said she and German leader Angela Merkel had reaffirmed their commitment to Iran's nuclear deal and the need for full implementation.

"And we [the remaining 27 European Union members] will be very carefully vetting that process and see to it that it is as close as possible, but that it is different to what Britain now has as a member, which is what they want, which is what the British people want".

She added that the Brexit deal needed to strike a "fair balance" but would be different to the full benefits of membership of the single market, something the remaining 27 European Union members would closely assess.

She reminded Mrs May that the clock was ticking to conclude trade talks before Brexit and said she was "curious" about Britain's detailed proposals.

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The German Chancellor insisted the EU27 has not changed their stance on Britain's departure from the European Union, admitting they "deplore it".

'We as 27 will be very carefully vetting that process to see to it that it is as close as possible but that it is different to what Britain now has as a member - which is what they want and what the British people want but this does not mean that it needs to be cherry-picking'.

It followed reports she had mocked Mrs May's negotiating approach at last month's World Economic Forum at Davos, complaining every time she asked her want she wanted, the Prime Minister replied: 'Make me an offer'.

"I'm not frustrated at all", she said.

In response to the proposal, a government spokesman said: "We set out our two preferred models in our Customs Future Partnership paper". But he said companies should use the time until March 2019 to prepare for the consequences of Britain's departure, many of which were being underestimated.

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Mrs May will say: "The challenge for all of us today is finding the way to work together, through a deep and special partnership between the United Kingdom and the European Union, to retain the co-operation that we have built and go further in meeting the evolving threats we face together".

"It isn't just a one-way street", the British prime minister said.

Mrs May also insisted there would be no return to a "hard border" in Northern Ireland and said there were various ways the issue could be addressed.

The new round comes after Sabine Weyand, the European Commission's deputy chief Brexit negotiator, warned that though British civil servants were "very competent negotiating partners", they lacked a "clear political direction" from London.

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