Donald Tusk trolls Theresa May on Instagram over her Brexit plan

Irving Hamilton
September 20, 2018

There is a consensus within the 27 member states that the central planks of May's Chequers plan on trade are not workable, but with the encouragement of Donald Tusk, the president of the European council, some have suggested the EU should seek to bridge the gap with fresh proposals.

And she will not accept an EU proposal that would keep British-ruled Northern Ireland in a customs union with the bloc if there is no other plan in place to prevent a hard border across the island of Ireland.

In a brief statement in Salzburg on Wednesday, Tusk said that while proposals hashed out by May and her Cabinet at her Chequers country retreat are a "positive evolution", the issues surrounding the Irish border and economic cooperation need to be "reworked and further negotiated".

The Prime Minister's domestic difficulties over Brexit also continued, with criticism from a senior Tory and a call from Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to delay the UK's departure from the EU.

But she made clear the high stakes of the negotiations over the coming weeks if a deal is to be struck this autumn in time for ratification ahead of March 29, 2019 Brexit day.

"I am convinced that we will find an agreement, but time is getting short".

But he did say London would offer proposals for regulatory aspects of the backstop to try to move the talks forward.

Speaking to the Daily Express, she said: 'Brexit gives us the opportunity to build a better future and to help people to realise the British dream. So, instead of taking political advantage of the situation, we should focus on what works and just get on with it. "It is not going to look much like Chequers". "This is why many of us will shortly be presenting an alternative plan which will outline a more ambitious vision".

The Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, whose country is an advocate for offering May a counter-proposal in the coming weeks, said that avoiding cherry-picking by the British, while keeping them close, and avoiding a no deal scenario was a hard balancing act.

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The EU negotiator confirmed, as had been suggested earlier this week, that Brussels was working on a new plan to solve the conundrum of the Irish border.

A British government source said London welcomed the EU's commitment to finding a solution to the border issue, but could not accept any proposal that would effectively move the customs frontier into the Irish Sea.

"Despite the talk of "improvements" the backstop being insisted upon by the European Union would mean a different regime for Northern Ireland compared to the rest of the U.K", he said.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, the host of the Salzburg summit, backed May in saying that "both sides need to compromise".

"But what we can not accept is seeing Northern Ireland carved away from the United Kingdom customs territory because regardless of where the checks would be, what that would mean would be that it would be a challenge to our constitutional and economic integrity".

But campaigners for a second referendum claim that it's not too late to "think again" about Brexit - and pointed out several ways a new "People's Vote" could happen.

Reports suggest that European Union officials are keen not to appear too hostile to May, or box her into an even more entrenched position - aware that she faces a daunting task to placate many doubters within her ruling Conservative Party, and to persuade a reluctant parliament to back a deal.

"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".

Theresa May says the Conservative government will not permit a second referendum on Brexit.

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