Published: Fri, September 21, 2018
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Theresa May demands respect from European Union over Brexit after Salzburg summit


The Prime Minister endured a particularly humiliating day in the ongoing talks after her unpopular Chequers blueprint, which she is pressing ahead with, was torn apart by European Union leaders at a summit in Austria. There is so far no full exit agreement and some rebels in May's Conservative Party have threatened to vote down a deal if she clinches one.

Calling out President of the European Council Donald Tusk, the prime minister said he had rejected proposals without offering a sufficient explanation or counterproposal.

The combative piece is said to have infuriated leaders by effectively rejecting Michel Barnier's revised proposals on the border issue before they have even been published.

The British government argues this would draw a border down the Irish Sea and undermine the constitutional integrity of the country.

Under the Chequers plan, as agreed by ministers in July, the prime minister hopes to agree a "common rulebook" between Britain and the European Union on goods, as well as a new customs arrangement with the bloc.

'That is not the way to command a exhausted group of leaders who are all bit sick of each other, ' one diplomat told The Times. That is why, following months of intensive work and detailed discussions, we proposed a third option for our future economic relationship, based on the frictionless trade in goods. "We need serious engagement in resolving the two big issues in the negotiations and we stand ready", she said.

"We have to be careful, like two loving hedgehogs", Juncker said when asked about the progress of the Brexit negotiations in an interview with several Austrian dailies including Die Presse and Salzburger Nachrichten published on Friday.

The situation was not helped by the emergence of a report that Trade Secretary Liam Fox was planning to slash food standards after Brexit to give the United Kingdom a competitive advantage and secure a U.S. trade deal.

But having flatly rejected the EU's thinking, Mrs May is then said to have delivered a hard message in a meeting with Irish PM Leo Varadkar yesterday morning.

Cabinet ministers Sajid Javid, Andrea Leadsom, Penny Mordaunt, and Esther McVey all reportedly want May to forget Chequers and focus on a Canada-style free trade deal, while former minister Philip Lee last night called for the Article 50 negotiation process to be extended.

Mrs May concluded her statement by saying: "The EU should be clear, I will not overturn the result of the referendum, nor will I break up my country".

As the stalemate continued, the Irish protocol - a legal guarantee that would ensure no hard Border no matter the outcome of Brexit - again emerged as a sore point, with the European Union 27 rowing in behind Ireland's position that there can be no deal without first agreeing on the backstop.

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