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May humiliated as EU leaders reject Chequers plan

Theresa May in Brussels 8 Dec

Theresa May: returning with new proposals


Prime Minister Theresa May’s Chequers plan was in tatters last night after EU leaders said it would not work.

They delivered a humiliating rejection of Mrs May’s terms for leaving the bloc and raised the prospect of there being no deal.

Cabinet minister Chris Grayling later warned that there will be no deal with the EU on Britain’s departure if it does not find a solution to the Irish border issue.

Mrs May says her Chequers proposal for the UK to sign up to a common rule book for trade in goods and a combined customs territory with the EU is the only way to avoid a hard border and breaking up the UK.

However, fundamental disagreement over the economic plan goes deeper, and specifically relates to the single market.

Donald Tusk, the European council president, re-affirmed member state solidarity behind the commission process and said that the economic aspect of MrsMay’s Chequers blueprint for Brexit will not work.

He said: “Everybody shared the view that while there are positive elements in the Chequers proposal, the suggested framework for economic cooperation will not work. Not least because it risks undermining the single market.”

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, said the EU leaders were “united that, in the matter of the single market, there can be no compromises”. She added: “No-one can belong to the single market if they are not part of the single market.”

Emmanuel Macron, the French president, said the UK’s proposals were “not acceptable” in their current form, particularly in relation to the single market.

The UK is due to leave the EU on 29 March 2019. Mrs May said the UK would “shortly” be coming forward with new proposals on the “backstop” arrangements for the Northern Irish border.

The Prime Minister is also facing a rebellion at home. Tory MPs have urged her to abandon her Chequers plan.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, chairman of the European Research Group, which is pushing for a harder Brexit, said: “Everyone expected that there would be some softening of Mr Barnier’s line. That hasn’t happened, it has been made firmer.

“I think Chequers now has no supporters at all. I doubt even the Downing Street cat is any longer backing the Chequers plan. I think the time has come for Mrs May to say ‘This is not going to work’.

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