The UK interior minister has reiterated Britain’s readiness to walk away from EU talks without a trade deal but claimed the prime minister and government would not abandon negotiations if an agreement is possible.

Speaking on Thursday, Home Secretary Priti Patel told LBC radio that the negotiations over a post-Brexit trade deal were in the “tunnel” phase, a term used to describe intense final stage talks. 

We are in that tunnel of negotiation and our teams continue to work incredibly hard. The prime minister and the government, we’ve all been very clear we are not walking away, we will continue to negotiate to get this free-trade agreement.

She added that MPs, who are sitting for the last time on Thursday before the Christmas recess, may be recalled “as early as next week” if a Brexit deal is reached by negotiators. 

The prime minister’s office has also confirmed that MPs may need to be recalled next week. “Parliament has long shown it can move at pace and the country would expect nothing less,” it said.

Brexit negotiations have been snagged on two key issues in recent weeks, namely state aid and EU access to British fisheries.

Speaking on Wednesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson called on European leaders to “see sense” and make compromises. 

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