22/10/2017 10:31 BST

Emily Thornberry Says UK Is Heading For No Brexit Deal Because Theresa May Is Too Weak

'She does not have the strength to control her own backbenchers.'

Emily Thornberry says the UK is ‘heading for no deal’ in Brexit negotiations because Theresa May is too weak to lead her own party.

The shadow foreign secretary said the prime minister “doesn’t have the strength or the authority to be ale to control her backbenchers, let alone her cabinet” and that it was a contributing factor in the lack of progress in negotiations with the EU. 

She told the BBC’S Andrew Marr Show: “I think we are heading for no deal and that is a serious threat to Britain’s interests, and we will stop it.”

Thornberry, who has been tipped as a potential future Labour leader, said it was vital for the UK to retain “red tape-free” access to the single market and “some form of customs union”.

She said an agreement secured following May’s meeting with senior EU figures this week, which will see talks turn to considering future trade negotiations, represented a change in atmosphere but little change in substance.

“We need to move on with the divorce [bill] first and that seems to still be in deadlock,” she added.

Thornberry said the government should be honest with people about how “disastrous” it would be for the UK if the country should crash out of the EU with no trade deal secured.

Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis, told the programme he hoped there would be an agreement, but that British expats living in Spain should not be worried.

“If there is no deal we will make sure the lives of ordinary people are not disrupted,” he said. 

“The relationship between the UK and Spain is a very important one. 17 million Brits come to Spain every year and we want to keep it that way as much as possible.”

Meanwhile, communities secretary Sajid Javid said he was confident Britain would retain its position as the financial capital and that it was “worth reminding people how lucky we are to be British”.