Senior minister says she could not accept long extension or full customs union

A no-deal Brexit at the end of next week would be “not nearly as grim” as many believe, one of Theresa May’s senior ministers has said, as both the government and Labour indicated that cross-party talks to resolve the situation remained deadlocked.

Andrea Leadsom, the Commons leader, said preparations would mitigate many adverse effects of no deal. She also said the idea of a departure extension long enough to require the UK to hold European elections was “utterly unacceptable”.

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