European Union (EU) leaders delivered a devastating knock-back to Theresa May after she appealed to work with her to salvage her Brexit deal by putting a 12-month limit on the unpopular Irish backstop.

The embattled prime minister had pinned her hopes on a last-ditch effort to persuade the EU work with her in devising a legal guarantee, known as a “joint interpretative instrument”, that she believes could get her Brexit deal through parliament.

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Labour has floated proposals for the Big Four accounting firms to be broken up – losing a huge number of their most important audit clients under proposals.

A report commissioned by the party has recommended radical measures to clean up Britain’s scandal-hit accounting industry, including capping the Big Four’s share of the audit market at 50% of Britain’s largest listed companies.