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UK's May secures cabinet support for Brexit blueprint

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May said her cabinet has reached a "collective position" on a blueprint for the country's economic ties with the European Union after Brexit, a move that could drive the pace of negotiations with the bloc.

May said July 6 that the cabinet has agreed on a proposal to create a U.K.-EU free trade area with a "common rulebook" for industrial goods and agricultural products, as well as a new customs regime that would allow the U.K. to strike new trade deals with other countries after it exits the EU.

"As a result, we avoid friction in terms of trade, which protects jobs and livelihoods, as well as meeting our commitments in Northern Ireland," she said.

According to a separate government statement, the cabinet agreed to collaborate with the EU to introduce an arrangement that could amount to a "combined customs territory" and enable the U.K. to control its own tariffs.

The government added that the U.K. would accept "ongoing harmonization" with EU norms on goods, but covering only those necessary to ensure continuous trade.

The U.K. Parliament would oversee how the rules are incorporated into U.K. law and may choose to reject them, according to the statement.

On services, Britain would seek different arrangements and regulatory flexibility, acknowledging that the U.K. and the EU will not retain current levels of access to each other's markets post-Brexit.

New arrangements on financial services should "preserve the mutual benefits of integrated markets and protect financial stability" as they could not replicate the EU's system of allowing companies to sell services across member states, the government said.

May said the government will publish a white paper in the week of July 9 detailing the U.K.'s proposals.

Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, wrote on Twitter that he was looking forward to the U.K.'s detailed proposals. "We will assess proposals to see if they are workable and realistic in view of [the European Commission's] guidelines," he said.

The U.K. government said it will step up preparations for a range of potential outcomes of the Brexit talks, including a no-deal scenario.