THERESA May has demanded respect in Brexit negotiations from EU leaders in a statement from Downing Street today.
The British prime minister said the rejection of her Chequers plan by her EU counterparts in Salzburg yesterday at ‘this late stage of negotiations’ was ‘not acceptable’.
A defiant May also vowed to prevent a so-called People’s Vote, adding: “I will not overturn the result of the referendum nor will I break up my country.”
The prime minister said she expected respect from leaders in Brussels.
She said: “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. So we now need to hear from the EU what the real issues are and what their alternative is so we can discuss them. Until we do, we cannot make progress.”
She said the two sides were still ‘a long way apart’ on key issues.
The two options being offered by the EU – for the UK to stay in the European Economic Area and customs union or a basic free trade agreement – were not acceptable, she added.
Staying in the EEA would ‘make a mockery of the referendum’, she said, while a basic free trade agreement would mean Northern Ireland would be ‘permanently separated economically from the rest of the UK by a border down the Irish sea’.
She said no UK prime minister would ever agree to that: “If the EU believe I will, they are making a fundamental mistake.”
In her words, either concession would result in a ‘bad deal’ and she has been very clear that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’.
May blasted Donald Tusk for rejecting her Chequers plan without any alternative or counter-offer.
“He didn’t explain how in any detail or make any counter proposal, so we are at an impasse,” she said.
Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab agreed with the prime minister in an earlier statement.
He said: “It did not feel like the reciprocation of the statesmanlike approach that she (Mrs May) has taken.
“We have been rebuffed on our plans without any coherent explanation as to why.”
The UK is due to leave the EU on March 29 2019.
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