Theresa May rallies European Union leaders with 'not perfect' Chequers proposal

Jeannie Matthews
September 21, 2018

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May attends the European Union leaders informal summit in Salzburg, Austria, September 20, 2018.

Labour MP Jo Swinson, from the People's Vote movement pushing for a second referendum on Brexit, said "Chequers is dead" and "whatever comes out of the negotiations now will inevitably be a very bad deal for Britain".

French President Emmanuel Macron, Irish leader Leo Vardakar, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel also expressed serious concerns over May's plan.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of the influential European Research Group of pro-Brexit Tories and a prominent critic of the Prime Minister's plan, summed up events in Salzburg by tweeting "Chequers goes pop" with the hashtag #ChuckChequers.

She added: "There is still a lot of work to do", and a no-deal scenario can't be ruled out.

May had already been forewarned of what they would say a few minutes earlier in a private meeting with Tusk, which she conceded was "frank".

But Macron countered, "The Chequers plan can not be take it or leave it". 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. "We recognised the EU's desire to protect the integrity of the single market and that's why we have put forward a proposal which does exactly that".

Chief among them was Tuesday's revelation by BMW, first reported by Sky News, that it would shut down manufacturing at its Mini plant outside Oxford for a month after Brexit day next year because of the potential for supply chain disruption.

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"If you want to make a deal, both sides will need to try to find a compromise", he said.

Labour's Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer called on Mrs May to abandon her opposition to the United Kingdom remaining in the European single market.

Mrs May has just told a clammy, tiny room full of journalists: "I believe that there is willingness to do a deal but let nobody be in any doubt, that as I've always said, we are preparing for no deal".

British Brexit Minister Dominic Raab told London's LBC radio that if the European Union did not move towards Britain's position, it would be "lose-lose" for both sides.

Reflecting on the position of the EU27, Tusk said: "Everybody shared the view that while there are positive elements in the Chequers proposal, the suggested framework for economic cooperation will not work".

Should a no deal be rejected by MPs as predicted, and with the Brexit date set in law for March 2019, the only feasible solution to solve such a constitutional crisis would be to either call a General Election or to refer to question back to the public in a second referendum before the March Brexit deadline. "The British people can be confident we have done what is necessary to make sure we have a success of leaving the European Union".

"Just think of all the people everyday who cross the border to work or study, think of all the businesses who trade across the border, so that's what we're trying to engineer in many ways, is a new relationship that at least when it comes to those matters, is very much like the one we have now, but that's hard to do".

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