European Union raises pressure as United Kingdom promises new Brexit plans

Marsha Scott
September 22, 2018

Asked about reports Mrs May is willing to concede to some regulatory checks at Irish Sea ports, Mr Varadkar said he didn't want to comment on details of proposals without anything in writing.

May reiterated that she would not accept the EU's "backstop" plan to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland, and said the United Kingdom would shortly be bringing forward its own proposals.

After receiving what she described as a "frank" briefing on the Brexit talks from Tusk, May gave a defiant press conference in which she insisted her plan was "the only proposal on the table".

Speaking at an EU summit in Salzburg on Thursday, the President of the European Council claimed that Theresa May's current Brexit trade suggestions will not work.

Officials say that 80 per cent of the divorce settlement is agreed, but that progress must be made quickly on Ireland and on the parallel political statement that will lay out a blueprint for future relations.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, hosting yesterday's summit, raised the alarm about the damage a collapse in the Brexit talks could do to the European economy.

Varadkar said Friday the two sides were "entering into a rocky patch" but said he was determined to secure a deal.

Mr Tusk said a Brussels summit on Oct 18 would be a "moment of truth" to overcome remaining big problems and leaders pencilled in the weekend of Nov 17-18 to formalise a final agreement.

Mrs May's approach to the Brexit negotiations received fresh criticism at home while she was in Austria from one of her former supporters.

Both sides are trying to reach a deal in time and want to avoid a hard border - meaning any physical infrastructure like cameras or guard posts - between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic but can not agree on how.

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In addition, the 27 European Union leaders reconfirmed that "there will be no Withdrawal Agreement without a solid, operational and legally binding Irish backstop".

Transport Secretary Mr Grayling told BBC Newsnight they had put forward the only proposal that meets the UK's red lines and also provides the "right solution" for the Irish border. Neither side wants an arrangement that would require the rebuilding of border infrastructure, the removal of which was a key part of the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland after years of sectarian strife. Mr Gove, who was a major face of the Leave campaign, urged Tory colleagues to support Mrs May's Chequers plan because a future PM could "choose to alter" Britain's post-Brexit ties.

There was "a lot of hard work to be done", she said, but added that the United Kingdom was also making preparations in case no deal could be reached. That is a reference to what European Union leaders cast as British attempts to cherry pick elements of European Union membership.

"We need to compromise on both sides", Tusk noted.

"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".

"We can also clarify that most checks can take place away from the border, at the company premises or in the market", he said.

Leave-backing Transport Secretary Chris Grayling insisted Britain is "preparing hard" for a no-deal Brexit, although he predicted a "sensible agreement" will be reached with Brussels.

May said her proposals were the "only serious credible" way to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland. Many opponents of Brexit predict this outcome, as do some supporters of a deeper break with the European Union than that advocated by the prime minister.

Most EU leaders "would welcome a situation where there is the possibility of the British people putting things into perspective, seeing what has been negotiated, seeing the options, and then deciding once and for all", he added.

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".

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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