Donald Tusk says Theresa May's Chequers plan for Brexit needs 'reworked'

Written by Tom Freeman and Liz Bates on 20 September 2018 in News

Irish border question remains stumbling block for EU negotiators at Saltzburg summit

Donald Tusk and Theresa May - PA

Theresa May’s Brexit proposals must be "reworked and further negotiated" before a final deal can be agreed, European Council President Donald Tusk has said.

Appearing ahead of a crunch summit in Salzburg, the Brussels chief urged the Prime Minister to tweak her current proposals on the contentious Northern Irish border issue and confirmed that an emergency Brexit summit will take place in mid-November.

While he welcomed a "positive evolution" in the UK's stance in recent months, Tusk warned: "On other issues, such as the Irish question, or the framework for economic co-operation, where the UK proposals will need to be reworked and further negotiated.

"There is more hope but there is surely less and less time, every day left we must use for talks."

May addressed the 27 leaders at a dinner in Saltzburg last night, claiming her "serious proposals" would maintain a close relationship between the UK and the EU.

Ministers are concerned that the EU's "backstop" proposal - which is intended only to be used if Britain's own plans are deemed unworkable - would jeopardise the UK by effectively keeping Northern Ireland in the customs union and single market after Brexit.

The Prime Minister’s alternative Chequers plan seeks to allow "frictionless" trade across the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, but it has met with opposition from Brussels as well as her own backenchers.

Brexiteer David Davis, who quit cabinet over the plan, said EU leaders will offer only "warm words" and more demands. Speaking to the Today programme, he said: "she’ll have a deal which she won’t be able to bring back to the House of Commons because it will be lumbered with loads of other EU demands. So she’s going to have to have something else.”

In a seperate interview, Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called on May to delay Brexit beyond 29 March in order to get more clarity over future trading arrangements.

 

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