Mrs May Invited To Mr Macron’s Holiday Retreat In France.

Prime Minister Theresa May is to hold talks with French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday, Downing Street says.

Mrs May has been invited to Mr Macron’s holiday retreat in the south of France.

It comes as the UK government steps up its engagement with counterparts in the EU over Brexit.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told the Evening Standard France and Germany had to “send a strong signal” to the European Commission on the need for a “pragmatic and sensible outcome”.

France’s support for Mrs May’s deal hammered out with her Cabinet at Chequers is seen as by diplomats as “the toughest nut to crack” in persuading the EU to start making concessions in the talks.

The Prime Minister will break her holiday in Lake Garda early on Friday evening and fly to Mr Macron’s home on the French Riviera.

A Number 10 source said the pair would use the meeting to have their first substantive face to face discussions about Mrs May’s Chequers deal.

Mrs May’s team have been trying to arrange the face to face meeting with Mr Macron since the Chequers blueprint – which prompted the resignations of Boris Johnson and David Davis from the Cabinet – was published last month.

Senior party figures have supported the Chequers deal but some have warned it should be a line in the sand rather than a flexible starting point for negotiations, because of the concessions it makes to the EU.

The source said: “We need to crack on [in the talks]. France and Germany have always been important in the Brexit negotiations.”

News of the meeting emerged as Mr Hunt held talks about the deal with French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in Paris yesterday and warned that the likelihood of a no deal Brexit is “increasing by the day”.

Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, has already savaged Mrs May’s blueprint but Mr Hunt said it was a “profound misunderstanding of us as a nation” to think the UK will bow to Brussels.

But Mr Hunt said Britain will not “blink” during negotiations and the EU would need to show a willingness to engage with Mrs May’s Chequers plan for withdrawal.

He said: “The probability of no deal is increasing by the day until we see a change of approach from the European Commission who have this view that they just need to wait and Britain will blink. That is just a profound misunderstanding of us as a nation.”