The Felsenreltschule theatre in Salzburg featured the scene depicting Maria von Trapp and her children singing the song before fleeing to Switzerland to escape Nazi persecution.
Images released of an EU summit working dinner at the theatre were also likened to a gathering of villains from a James Bond movie.
The dinner at the Felsenreitschule theatre was the setting for the famous musical scene in the Sound of Music
But EU diplomats said the idea the venue could have been chosen deliberately was a ‘conspiracy theory too far’ adding; ‘It did look like a Bond lair, however;
‘You were expecting [Austrian Chancellor] Sebastian Kurz to have a red button which he could press and leaders disappear if they misbehaved. The truth is no-one knew what the programme of this dinner was going to be when the venue was chosen.’
The 17th century Baroque building is part-carved out of the mountain it sits next to. It provided a dramatic backdrop to Mrs May’s speech in which she tried to sell her Chequers plan to the EU 27 remaining leaders.
Sources said she was effectively handed the ‘graveyard slot’ and spoke for just ten minutes after the leaders spoke for four hours about migration first.
The summit has been organised by Austria which holds the EU’s rotating presidency.
Claims the venue was chosen to reference the ‘So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye’ scene (pictured) were called ‘conspiracy theories’ by EU leaders
Surprise! EU chiefs tell Britain to have a new vote on Brexit
EU leaders sparked a backlash last night after calling for a second referendum to allow voters to ‘change their view’ on Brexit.
In separate interventions, the leaders of the Czech Republic and Malta urged Theresa May to drop her opposition to a second referendum.
Their comments prompted an angry response in the UK, with Mrs May responding: ‘There will be no second referendum.’
Maltese PM Joseph Muscat, who has been dogged by questions about a corruption scandal, claimed EU leaders were ‘almost unanimous’ in wanting Britain to change its mind.
Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said he would like to see another referendum on Brexit
Mr Muscat, a friend of Tony Blair, who is campaigning for a second Brexit referendum, said the UK public should have the chance to ‘put things in perspective’ before leaving in March next year.
‘There is a unanimous – or almost unanimous, I would say – point of view around the table that we would like the almost impossible to happen, that the UK has another referendum,’ he told the BBC.
‘That being said, I don’t know what the result would be, whether it would be any different from the first result.
‘I think most of us would welcome a situation where there is the possibility of the British people putting things into perspective, seeing what has been negotiated, seeing the options and then deciding once and for all.’
Czech PM Andrej Babis also said he would like to see a second referendum.
Mr Babis, seen as an ally of Mrs May, said: ‘We hope that finally we will reach a deal but basically I am very unhappy that the UK is leaving, so it would be better maybe to make another referendum and maybe the people in the meantime could change their view.’
Czech PM Andrej Babis, who is generally seen as an ally of Mrs May, said he would also like to see another referendum held
The EU has a long history of ignoring inconvenient referendum results or forcing countries to vote again. The most famous example is Ireland’s rejection of the Lisbon Treaty in 2008, which was overturned in a second referendum after intense pressure from Brussels.
But Mrs May has repeatedly said she will not countenance a second referendum – a message she repeated to EU leaders ‘very firmly’ at a dinner in Salzburg on Wednesday night.
Downing Street yesterday pointed out that the interventions from Mr Muscat and Mr Babis were recorded before the dinner with Mrs May.
Asked about their comments, Mrs May said: ‘There have been voices talking about a second referendum, but actually what is happening is that people are starting to recognise that this (Brexit) is going to happen and that we are going to leave on 29 March next year.’
Campaigners for a second referendum seized on the EU leaders’ comments. Eloise Todd, head of the group Best for Britain, which is campaigning for a so-called ‘people’s vote’, said: ‘What’s clear is there is still time for the UK to check with the people if Brexit is what they still want – even EU leaders are now saying they would accommodate that if we wanted.’ But MPs on both sides of the Brexit debate said foreign leaders had no business interfering in the UK’s democratic processes.
Theresa May was left isolated at the Salzburg conference as she tried to convince the EU 27 of the value of her Chequers plan
Jacob Rees-Mogg, chairman of the European Research Group of Tory MPs, said: ‘It is surprising that it has taken so long for member states to suggest a second referendum. The EU’s version of democracy is to demand voters keep on voting until they give the right answer.’ Fellow Eurosceptic Henry Smith said: ‘So the Czech and Maltese prime ministers publicly call for a second Brexit referendum.
‘Not surprising, it’s the EU establishment’s default.
‘Time and again European electorates voted against EU plans but have been ignored. Well that’s not the British tradition of democracy. Bye.’ Henry Newman, director of the think-tank Open Europe, said elements of the British establishment had been using diplomatic channels for months to spread the idea that Britain would eventually give way to pressure for a second referendum.
He said serving MPs and former Cabinet ministers and Whitehall mandarins were among those encouraging EU leaders to offer a bad deal in order to increase the pressure for a second vote. Mr Newman said: ‘It is not surprising that some EU leaders are under the impression the UK could hold a second referendum. Virtually every time I attend a diplomatic dinner there is a senior British figure there saying: ‘Don’t worry, we can stop all this. Offer the worst deal possible and there will be a second referendum.’
The votes they managed to overturn
2001 – The Irish rejected the EU’s Nice treaty by 54-46. The following year Ireland voted to accept it by 63-37 after receiving ‘reassurances’ from Brussels, particularly on defence
2005 – France and the Netherlands rejected the EU Constitution treaty. The proposals were repackaged as the Lisbon Treaty, which was passed without a poll in either country
2008 – Ireland rejects the Lisbon Treaty by 53-47. The following year Dublin caves in to pressure from Brussels to hold a second poll, which backs treaty 67-33
2015 – Greeks reject terms of an EU austerity package by 61-39. Greek leaders and EU ignore result and push cuts through
So what on earth happens next?
Theresa May is facing a bruising and potentially nightmarish end to 2018.
After the EU yesterday all but killed off her post-Brexit Chequers plan, she flew home last night to lick her wounds and work out how to navigate the choppy months ahead.
The Tory conference
The first of the Prime Minister’s challenges is the Tory party conference which starts on Sunday September 30 in Birmingham.
Former foreign secretary and arch Brexiteer Boris Johnson is planning a pro-Brexit rally for hundreds of the party’s grassroots activists. The event, hosted by the ConservativeHome website, will see further scorn poured on Mrs May’s Chequers plan.
Its aim will be to put more pressure on her to ‘chuck Chequers’. The event is the night before her keynote party conference speech.
Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage is planning a nationwide tour of ‘Leave Means Leave’ rallies to hammer home the anti-Chequers message.
It starts in Bolton this Sunday and he will lead a Save Brexit rally on September 30 at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham where he will be joined by Tory MPs Peter Bone and Andrea Jenkyns.
Mrs May will have painful memories of her disastrous speech to the conference last year – wrecked by a coughing fit and a collapsing stage set.
Return of Parliament… and leadership plotting
Parliament returns from recess on October 9, having stopped sitting for the conference season. This will be the first time when MPs outraged at Mrs May’s insistence on sticking with her Chequers plan will have a chance to voice their opinions.
Many Eurosceptics will delight in telling Mrs May ‘I told you so’ when she reports back on the Salzburg summit. It would also provide the first opportunity for a potential leadership challenge.
A handful of members of the pro-Brexit European Research Group of Tory MPs, led by Jacob Rees-Mogg, have been threatening to overthrow the Prime Minister for weeks. Last night former Brexit secretary David Davis claimed he had 40 MPs signed up to vote against Chequers.
More awkward dates with EU leaders
EU president Donald Tusk has warned that the next EU summit on October 18 is the moment Brexit talks could collapse if Britain does not make more concessions on Chequers and the Irish border.
This would lead to him abandoning a further special summit that is due to be held on November 15.
Mrs May yesterday said she was willing to walk away without a deal. But it is unclear what her position would then be after she has spent months failing to sell her Chequers plan to MPs and the EU.
If she manages to get past the October summit with the basis of an agreement with the EU, she then faces the emergency summit, at which both sides have said they will aim to finalise matters. Any 11th-hour complications could turn this summit into a nightmare.
But will any deal get MPs’ backing?
Mrs May’s biggest challenge could be getting any Brexit ‘divorce’ deal past MPs. Labour has said it will vote against any deal she reaches.
This, combined with Brexiteers angry about her not seeking their preferred Canada-style free trade deal, could mean she does not have the numbers to get it passed.
Both the UK and EU have agreed that a deal should be done by no later than November so there is enough time to get it signed off by their respective parliaments in time for March 29, 2019, when Britain will leave the EU.
Macron: Pro-Brexit campaigners ‘lied’
Emmanuel Macron branded the leaders of the pro-Brexit campaign ‘liars’ for telling voters it would be easy to leave the EU.
The French president said the decision was ‘not without costs’ and ‘not without consequences’.
‘Brexit is the choice of the British people and it is a choice pushed by certain people who predicted easy solutions,’ he said in Salzburg.
‘Brexit has shown us one thing – and I fully respect British sovereignty in saying this – it has demonstrated that those who said you can easily do without Europe, that it will all go very well, that it is easy and there will be lots of money, are liars.
‘This is all the more true because they left the next day, so they didn’t have to manage it.’ Mr Macron said it was true that Brexit negotiations had been complex and lengthy.
But he added: ‘That fact must not be exploited by those very people who are the cause of this problem, who got us into the Brexit situation and who now tell us that Europe is going from crisis to crisis.’
His claim the leaders of the Brexit campaign ‘left the next day’ after the vote appeared to confuse them with David Cameron, who quit as PM after calling on voters to back Remain. By contrast, Brexit supporters David Davis, Boris Johnson and Liam Fox were brought into the Cabinet.