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UK minister optimistic about Brexit deal after Toyota warning

London

BRITISH Business Secretary Greg Clark said on Saturday there were grounds for optimism that Britain would strike a Brexit deal with the European Union, after Japanese carmaker Toyota warned that leaving without an agreement would hit its output.

Just six months before Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29, 2019, Prime Minister Theresa May has said talks to clinch a divorce deal are at an impasse. She has said her "Chequers" proposals are the only viable option, but EU leaders have said key parts of them are unacceptable. The uncertainty has led to concerns that Britain will leave without a deal which businesses, particularly carmakers, have said would be hugely damaging.

"Of course we want a deal," Business Secretary Greg Clark told BBC radio. "No one should be under any illusion that the prime minister and our negotiating team are absolutely determined... There are grounds for optimism that we can reach an agreement on this," he said.

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He was responding to comments from Marvin Cooke, the boss of Toyota's plant in central England, who told the BBC a no-deal Brexit would hit production. Toyota's Burnaston plant produced 144,000 models last year. It is the latest in a series of warnings from carmakers that any delays at borders could slow the movement of components and finished models, adding costs and crippling output. REUTERS