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PM May says she won't let Brexit talks be derailed as talks loom

LONDON British Prime Minister Theresa May said yesterday she will not be derailed from leaving the European Union, laying the groundwork for difficult meetings this week in which she will try to unite a divided cabinet behind her vision for post-Brexit Britain.

Mrs May was applauded by European Union leaders in Brussels on Friday after securing an agreement to move previously-deadlocked talks forward onto the topic of interim and long-term trading arrangements.

The progress has gone some way to easing concerns of businesses and investors who fear Britain could crash out of the bloc without an exit deal, or that Mrs May's fragile government could collapse under the pressure of delivering Brexit.

"Amid all the noise, we are getting on with the job," she wrote in the Sunday Telegraph.

"My message today is very clear: we will not be derailed from this fundamental duty to deliver the democratic will of the British people."

But she can expect some difficult exchanges this week when she and senior ministers discuss the so-called "end state" of the Brexit negotiations for the first time since Britain voted to leave the EU in a referendum in Junelast year.

The type of long-term relationship the country should have with the EU is a vexed question at every level in Britain, including within Mrs May's cabinet, where some want to keep close ties with the EU and others want a more radical divorce from Brussels.

Mindful of the need to keep both sides happy, she has so far plotted a careful path.

Meetings expected to take place today and tomorrow are likely to force those issues out into the open.

"What we need to do is something new and ambitious, which allows zero tariffs and frictionless trade but still gives us that important freedom to decide our own regulatory framework, our own laws and do things in a distinctive way in the future," Foreign Minister Boris Johnson told the Sunday Times newspaper. - REUTERS

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