Theresa May Welcomes to London the EC President Donald Tusk

- "Broad" co-operation on energy, including a "close association" with Euratom, as well as continuity of transport services and "flexible" domestic regulation for the digital sector to allow it to respond to developments in the European Union digital single market.

This discovery - deemed "the most remarkable revelation of duplicity" by Conservative peer Michael Heseltine - also indicated the price that Tory Brexiters now seem increasingly prepared to see paid for Brexit: a hard Northern Irish border, whatever consequences this may involve for peace or the future of Ireland. In a nutshell, the prime minister once again spelled out the reasons to stay in the European Union, rather than leave.

Brussels is awaiting May's proposals for a future trade relationship on Friday.

Former Conservative premier John Major warned the government s promises were "just not credible", while his Labour successor Tony Blair said that May s hopes of keeping market access without following European Union rules was "not possible". "Fresh meat, particularly pork and poultry, has a limited shelf-life, so any delays, or even the potential for delays, at borders would be problematic for trade in this product".

British Prime Minister Theresa May called on Friday for a deep partnership with the European Union after Brexit, setting out ambitions for a tailor-made deal with independent arbitration and new arrangements for regulation and financial services.

"I believe that is achievable because it is in the EU's interests as well as ours and because of our unique starting point, where on day one we both have the same laws and rules", she will say.

Meanwhile as the crunch issue of avoiding a hard Irish border still has to be found, Arlene Foster, the DUP leader, said the PM's speech provided a basis "upon which it would be possible to move forward".

The Brexit secretary, David Davis, has doubled down on that position by reportedly threatening that the United Kingdom will not honour its £35bn-£39bn financial settlement with the EU unless Brussels backs down on attempts to keep Northern Ireland subject to European Union rules.

May has said Britain will not join a customs union with the EU after Brexit, delighting some Brexit supporters who say staying in a customs union would prevent other trade deals.

Labour MP Peter Kyle, a supporter of the pro-EU Open Britain campaign said: "The Prime Minister said she wanted to present some "hard truths": what we got was a list of reasons why Brexit is much more complicated, much more difficult and much more costly than anyone could have known about during the referendum".

Britain's vote to leave the EU has undermined one of the pillars of a 1998 settlement that ended decades of violence in Northern Ireland between mostly Catholic Irish nationalists and Protestant unionists favoring continued union with Britain.

It's also unacceptable to the Northern Irish lawmakers who prop up Theresa May's government, and to plenty of Britons of all parties. "There will be no cherry-picking", he said.

With British politics still in turmoil over Brexit, a mammoth project rejected by almost half the country in a 2016 referendum, there has been a sharpening of tone on both sides.

May's government got a boost on Wednesday when Japanese carmaker Toyota confirmed plans to build a new model in England.

  • Leroy Wright