The EU tells Theresa May her Chequers Brexit plan 'will not work'

Marco Green
September 21, 2018

It comes after Brussels moved to soften its approach to the controversial backstop plan - an "insurance policy" to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Despite reports of a friendly spirit at a summit in Salzburg, Austria, the fundamental differences remained.

Turning to the future trade deal, May said: "There is no solution that will solve the Northern Ireland border which is not based on the frictionless movement of goods".

However, at her own news conference, she appeared shaken by a barrage of questions about the EU's explicit rejection of the main pillars of her Chequers plan.

They've spent two days in Salzburg trying to do just that, but with no clear solution in sight, the sides have tried to ramp up pressure on each other.

"It must be clear that there are some issues where we are not ready to compromise, first off the four fundamental freedoms, the Single Market, this is why we remain sceptical of Chequers", Mr Tusk said.

He said: "It was a good and courageous step by the Prime Minister".

The UK vehicle industry has demanded Brexit negotiators rule out a "no-deal" scenario immediately, to avoid costly damage to the sector across Europe.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed, saying "substantial progress" must be made on Brexit when the parties meet on October 18 in Brussels, with a view to wrapping up a deal in November.

In response, May said Britain was preparing to leave the bloc without an agreement on the terms of its departure unless there is a proposal it deems acceptable.

If that happens, there would be 21 months of what is being a called a "transition period".

If Theresa May hoped that a two-day summit with European leaders in the birthplace of Mozart would bring harmony to the fraught Brexit process, she will have left sorely disappointed.

UK Government sources revealed that Mrs May used Wednesday night's dinner to acknowledge the difficulties and that she had "never pretended Brexit would be easy or simple".

Despite Tusk potentially dealing a fatal blow to her plan, May insisted she was "continuing to work for a good deal".

"Neither side can demand the unacceptable of the other", she writes, whether that be erecting "an external customs border between different parts of the United Kingdom - which no other country would accept if they were in the same situation - or the UK seeking the rights of European Union membership without the obligations".

With Theresa May looking extremely unlikely to concede further ground on any future deal with the European Union, and with just four weeks for the PM to come up with a better deal, this afternoon's statement from Tusk now virtually ensures that the Tories' Chequers proposal is completely dead in the water. This was seen as a way to avoid the need for border controls between Northern Ireland and Ireland, reduce the role of the European Court of Justice in the United Kingdom and allow for an independent trade policy.

"She is playing a game of Russian Roulette with the country which is frankly an insult to the referendum result and all those people who voted, no matter how they voted".

She reiterated that Britain was prepared for a no-deal Brexit.

EU President Donald Tusk later told reporters at a press conference that May's "suggested framework for economic cooperation will not work", because it would undermine the union's single market.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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