Downing Street has admitted that it does not know if EU negotiator Michel Barnier will turn up for face-to-face Brexit trade talks which are due to resume tomorrow.
The admission came after reports suggested Mr Barnier was pulling out of the talks unless there is a major shift in the UK’s negotiating stance.
It came as Boris Johnson faced a growing backlash from senior Tories over plans to cut foreign aid from 0.7 per cent to 0.5 per cent of gross national income (GNI) - a cut which would account for more than £4bn.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said in Wednesday's Spending Review that the plans were needed to repair the economy following the coronavirus crisis.
Former foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt and ex-prime minister David Cameron were among those who criticised the proposal, while Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said it was “shameful and wrong” to remove support to some of the world’s poorest people during the pandemic.
And the prime minister risked further antagonising Tory MPs and much of England as the government announced nearly every part of the country would be subject to Tier 2 and Tier 3 coronavirus restrictions upon exiting lockdown.