– French President Emmanuel Macron said leaders of the Brexit campaign who told British voters it would be easy were “liars” and leaving the European Union was “not without costs”. “A good relationship at the end of this process depends on it”.
Some executives have pinned their hopes on a proposal developed by British Prime Minister Theresa May that would maintain close trading ties in goods and agricultural products and include a transition period of almost two years.
May faces a fight with angry Conservative lawmakers at her party’s annual conference from September 30.
The judgment of British newspapers was brutal.
Macron, meanwhile, expressed contempt for pro-Brexit British politicians who told the public there would be “simple solutions” to leaving.
David Davis, the former Brexit secretary, also called for a change of negotiating tactic.
But despite all the heated British rhetoric, the EU’s position was not new.
Those guidelines include the need for a “backstop” in a British withdrawal deal to ensure customs and regulatory compliance between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, where no one wants to restore a physical border.
EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker conceded Friday that the Brexit negotiations were prickly – likening them to the courtship of two hedgehogs – but insisted the two sides were “moving closer”.
Yet British politicians and diplomats were taken aback by Tusk’s blunt dismissal of the Chequers plan on Thursday – and by his light-hearted Instagram post showing Tusk and May looking at a dessert tray and the words: “A piece of cake, perhaps?”
Tusk said he was confident a deal would be done, and several commentators speculated the European Union may have been deliberately critical in order to force a crisis that would help bring negotiations to a close.
May had hoped that European Union leaders would give her Chequers plan a warm reception – or at least not actively criticise it – 10 days before she has to face a restive Conservative party at its annual conference next month.
The next major milestone in the Brexit process is fast approaching, with the October 18 summit labelled a “moment of truth” by Mr Tusk.
May was also set an October deadline for a solution on the Irish border issue just hours after informing Leo Varadkar, the Irish taoiseach, in a private breakfast meeting that she felt it would be impossible to come to a compromise within such a timescale. The EU version of the so-called “backstop” would see Northern Ireland alone continue to follow many EU trade rules and regulations – but London says this would undermine the integrity of the UK.
“But I think we need to double our efforts over the next couple of weeks to make sure that we have a deal”, he said, Reuters reported.
“You are our friends, our neighbours, our colleagues”.
Cabinet minister Penny Mordaunt said she believed that voters “still want a deal but (are) content to go without one”.
An additional Brexit summit could be held in November, but only if a deal is within reach.
May has been urging her European counterparts to accept her controversial Chequers plan, which has divided the Conservative party and the United Kingdom in general after it was thrashed out back in July.
May had arrived in Salzburg hoping that European Union leaders would offer some warm but vague words to ensure that her plan remained intact through the Conservative party conference, before entering the critical phase of the divorce talks between mid October and mid November.
There is actually the risk of failing to get the deal ratified by parliaments before Brexit Day.
Enterprise Minister Heather Humphreys said that Brexit was the “most significant challenge” facing Irish enterprise in over 50 years.
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”. “It would be possible that [the EU] accepted painful compromises to avoid a failure and then the United Kingdom would want to continue negotiating because suddenly it’s possible again.’ France is believed to be backing Mr Barnier’s new position”.
“We stand ready”, she said.