BRITAIN will warn Brussels that a hard border in Ireland will be inescapable in a No Deal scenario in a bid to keep talks about Theresa May’s Chequers plan alive.
After the EU appeared to shoot down a central plank of the PM’s soft Brexit blueprint, Brexit officials are planning to make the stark warning to their EU counterparts to jolt negotiations.
The potentially toxic threat is unveiled today by Sun columnist James Forsyth who reports senior Government strategists believe that cannot go on with “the government offering up concession after concession.”
He added “Some in government believe that they can reverse the EU’s threat; pointing out that if there is no deal there’ll be a hard border in Ireland.” And they hope the message will make EU leaders more likely to compromise – but it is set to be controversial in both the UK and Ireland.
Fresh from a roasting by Brussels, the PM yesterday met the leaders of Austria, Estonia and the Czech Republic in a bid sell her dented Brexit blueprint to fellow EU leaders.
Ahead of her summer break in Italy Mrs May, was hosted by Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz at the Salzberg Festival and held talks there with the other leaders on the fringes of the opera gathering.
Brexit officials are planning to make the stark warning concerning the Irish border to their EU counterparts to jolt negotiations[/caption]
Both the Austrian and Czech governments have been critical of aspects of EU policy, particularly on migration, and Mrs May is determined to exploit internal divisions within the EU to push for a more flexible approach from Brussels.
But in a blow last night Czech Europe Minister Ales Chmelar insisted there was unity behind Michel Barnier’s approach to the talks.
The EU chief negotiator Mr Barnier all but rejected a key plank of her Brexit strategy on Thursday.
Central to the PM’s plan is her “facilitated customs arrangement” under which tariffs charged at the border would be passed on to either the Britain or the EU depending on the destination of imported goods, but Mr Barnier made clear that was not acceptable to Brussels.
Euro MPs accused Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab of ‘sabotaging’ negotiations[/caption]
And Mr Chmelar gave his backing to Mr Barnier’s position, saying: “There is a clear problem with the fact that the EU will not have a mechanism to control its borders and it would be delegated – without any EU control – to a third country, which would be Britain after March.
“The fact that we are maybe critical of some aspects of EU policies, be it in migration or be it in other areas, does not meant that we wouldn’t stand behind a very strong position on the integrity of the single market.”
Sebastian Kurz was slightly warmed to Mrs May on her arrival in Salzburg, but also backed the Brussels hardliner.
He said: “I think that the negotiations are going quite well” but stressed the importance of “avoiding a hard Brexit”.
He added: “We will support Michel Barnier and also you and this way.”
The EU chief negotiator Mr Barnier all but rejected a key plank of Theresa May’s Brexit strategy on Thursday[/caption]
Last night Henry Newman of the think tank Open Britain warned Brussels was making the same mistakes that led to Brexit: “Member states need to give the British decision to leave a little more sober reflection – perhaps when David Cameron came asking for flexibility during his renegotiation it might have been better to give a little more.
He added: “They need to look beyond the details of customs arrangements and participation in this or that agency, important though they are, to the bigger canvas: the future shape of this continent.”
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EU leaders are due to meet in Salzburg on September 20 for an informal summit that could be used to discuss Brexit developments amid claims German Chancellor Angela Merkel believes there has been “drift” in the talks.
Voters slam PM plan
NEARLY half of voters think Theresa May’s soft Brexit Chequers plan is a dud, a poll revealed.
IPSOS Mori found fewer than one in three think the vision is a goer, and 47 per cent would not support it. And it showed confidence in Mrs May’s government had plummeted since the walkout of Cabinet ministers David Davis and Boris Johnson.
Mrs May’s satisfaction ratings among Tory voters also slumped from 68 per cent to 50 per cent, according to the Evening Standard survey.
Jeremy Corbyn’s approval ratings fell from 31 per cent last month to 28 per cent. Over half think Labour should send him packing before the next General Election.
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