May stands firm on Brexit impasse
Following the events in Salzburg last week, UK Prime Minister Theresa May has come out swinging, defending her Chequers plan for exiting the European Union.
The Prime Minister, in a statement on Friday (September 21), outlined the two key issues which are causing the current impasse between EU and UK negotiators.
The first is the economic relationship with the EU following the departure of the UK from the union, while the second regards the backstop to ensure no hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Regarding the economic relationship, the EU only offers two options, Prime Minister May said.
“The first option would involve the UK staying in the European Economic Area and a customs union with the EU, abiding by EU rules on trade and immigration, she said.
“The second option would be a basic free trade agreement for Great Britain that would introduce checks at the Great Britain/EU border, with Northern Ireland remaining in the customs union.
It is something I will never agree to – indeed, in my judgement it is something no British Prime Minister would ever agree to. If the EU believe I will, they are making a fundamental mistake.
“Anything which fails to respect the referendum or which effectively divides our country in two would be a bad deal and I have always said no deal is better than a bad deal.
“Yesterday Donald Tusk said our proposals would undermine the single market. He didn’t explain how in any detail or make any counter-proposal. So we are at an impasse.
“Throughout this process, I have treated the EU with nothing but respect. The UK expects the same. A good relationship at the end of this process depends on it.
At this late stage in the negotiations, it is not acceptable to simply reject the other side’s proposals without a detailed explanation and counter proposals.
“We now need to hear from the EU what the real issues are and what their alternative is so that we can discuss them. Until we do, we cannot make progress.
“In the meantime, we must and will continue the work of preparing ourselves for no deal.”
The Prime Minister clarified that the three million EU citizens living in the UK would have their rights protected, and also assured the people of Northern Ireland that all would be done to prevent the return of a hard border, even in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
“The referendum was the largest democratic exercise this country has ever undergone. To deny its legitimacy or frustrate its result threatens public trust in our democracy.
“No one wants a good deal more than me – but the EU should be clear: I will not overturn the result of the referendum. Nor will I break up my country,” she said.
“We need serious engagement on resolving the two big problems in the negotiations. We stand ready.”