Britain, EU clash over who should blink on Brexit

22 September, 2018, 05:59 | Author: Carlos George
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EU Council President Donald Tusk issued a stark warning to Britain on Wednesday that its Brexit position must be "reworked", as Prime Minister Theresa May prepared to address European leaders at a key summit.

"Everybody shared the view that while there are positive elements in the Chequers proposal, the suggested framework for economic co-operation will not work, not least because it is undermining the single market", he said.

"It has been clear for weeks that Theresa May's Chequers proposals can not deliver the comprehensive plan we need to protect jobs, the economy and avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland".

"I don't understand why she's failed to hear the message that the Chequers proposal wasn't going to be accepted by the European Union and frankly it's not going to be accepted by her own party", he said.

Despite all of this, May remained upbeat: she said the United Kingdom will "shortly" come forward with new proposals on the so-called Irish "backstop" arrangements for implementation at the border if no long-term solution is found.

Mrs May promised new proposals to reassure Dublin that it would not end up with a "hard border" with the British province of Northern Ireland but warned that she too could live with a no-deal outcome - though many around the summit in Salzburg do not believe that that is a credible threat.

European Union officials again said Britain had to move its own position over how to avoid erecting border posts on the Irish border, which will become Britain's only land frontier with the European Union, as well as on future economic cooperation after Brexit day. Tusk, meanwhile, said that the upcoming October summit would be the "moment of truth" for reaching a deal, and that "if the conditions are there" another summit would be held in November to "formalize" it.

It was a setback characterised by the British media as a "humiliation", just days before a meeting of May's Conservative party, where eurosceptics are ramping up the pressure on their leader to be tough. They will discuss the issue among themselves over lunch on Thursday, setting what Barnier hopes can be a path to a final deal in two months.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker sought to calm any hurt feelings but called for caution, comparing Britain and the EU to two loving hedgehogs.

The negotiation of Brexit could be tough in October as European Union and Britain are both defending their positions.

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"I actually think the Chequers proposal is not ideal but broadly represents the kind of compromising package that protects Britain's industrial base, that protects agriculture and represents a positive position to take into the negotiations", he said.

The Prime Minister said a solution for the border "cannot divide the United Kingdom into two customs territories".

May said she wanted to reassure people in Northern Ireland "that in the event of no deal, we will do everything in our power to prevent a return to a hard border".

"Brexit is a choice made by the British people and a choice that was pushed by certain people who predicted easy solutions", Macron said, referring to the Britain's June 2016 Brexit referendum campaign.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar told reporters time is running short.

He reminded the British, however, that the checks were the result of their decision to leave not only the EU but also the single market and the customs union. The EU has said that the single market can not be cherry-picked like that.

A second said May seemed to be edging toward compromise, offering new proposals on how to avoid differing economic regulations disrupting trade and speaking of a "middle way": "She spoke".

The extraordinary attack, at the close of the EU Salzburg summit, is likely aimed at Vote Leave leaders like former foreign secretary Boris Johnson and environment secretary Michael Gove, and possibly former UKIP leader Nigel Farage.

"I think this signals that very serious discussions are now taking place", the source said.

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