China's top diplomat to visit Britain amid Brexit uncertainty

China's top diplomat to visit Britain amid Brexit uncertainty

Barnier has insisted that a two-year transitional deal, during which time Britain would remain in the European Union, continuing single-market access, would be sufficient in preventing businesses from going under or taking their deals elsewhere.

Dr Fox insisted Brexit was not like a "boiled egg" and there were more options than going for either a hard or soft withdrawal from the EU.

Critically being in the customs union would force Brexit Britain to accept EU tariffs on any trade deals struck with other a country outside the bloc.

Sir Andrew Cahn, ex-chief executive of UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), expressed doubts about Britain being allowed to keep sectors like auto manufacturing in the customs union after leaving the EU, while pulling others out.

Dr Fox, the worldwide trade secretary, said: "We want to look at all the different things, it's not binary".

Dr Fox added: 'The Government will come to a collective view on this once we have looked at all the issues.

He did admit that a deal retaining some degree of customs union access would result in "limitations on what we could do on tariff settings" and added "what we need to do before we make final decisions is to look at the costs".

He said: "The UK wouldn't want to put a lot of obstacles in the way to Australia, and we certainly wouldn't want to put a lot of obstacles in the way to British exports".

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But he cautioned to move deliberately and thoughtfully with China because Taiwan is at "the heart of the conception as a nation". The president has ordered a report from US intelligence agencies on the matter by January 20, his last day in office.

George Osborne warned Theresa May not to make immigration a "red line" in Brexit talks as he took a dig at her low profile in the European Union referendum.

And in a warning shot at No 10, the Conservative backbencher said Parliament would have scrutiny over Brexit "whether the Government likes it or not".

Well-placed sources say the International Trade Secretary has described Brexit as "Europe-minus" and "world-plus".

However, his colourful comments about "Europe-minus" and "world-plus" could put him at odds with Brexit Secretary David Davis.

"I would say we are leaving the European Union - that's the only red line I would draw".

In his first major broadcast interview since being sacked by Mrs May, he signalled that he would be among Conservative MPs leading resistance to a "hard Brexit".

Last month the Government lost a court case decreeing they must consult MPs before triggering Article 50 - the formal process for leaving the EU. One MP who has known her for 30 years said: 'She hides it well but she is under huge strain'.

"Would that be legal under the WTO (World Trade Organisation), I doubt, even if we got away with it I don't think the European Union side would be prepared to do it - why would they allow us to cherry-pick?"