Theresa May’s Chequers deal has faced almost unanimous rejection from Brexiteers and Remainers alike, after European Council president Donald Tusk said it “will not work”.
During a speech in Salzburg, where May met with EU leaders over dinner last night, he said that no Brexit agreement can be reached without a solution to the Irish border issues, and “while there are positive elements in the Chequers proposal, its suggested framework for economic cooperation will not work, not least because it risks undermining the single market”.
May also addressed reporters, and said she agreed with Tusk that there could be no agreement without “a legally operative backstop [for Northern Ireland], but that backstop cannot divide the United Kingdom into two customs territories”.
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“We will be bringing forward our own proposals shortly,” she added. “Our white paper remains the only serious and credible proposition on the table.”
May also said there would be “no second Brexit referendum”.
“I am focused on delivering on the vote of the British people,” she said.
Listen: Sir Mike Penning shares his thoughts on Chequers with Julia Hartley-Brewer
“If there are concerns from the EU, let's hear what they are and let's sit down and look at those concerns. There is no counter-proposal on the table at the moment.”
The denial of Chequers from EU leaders came after Sir Mike Penning, a ally of May, said MPs would vote down the Chequers proposal because it "doesn't deliver what people ask for".
'The laughing stock of Europe'
Remainers and Brexiteers alike seemed united in their responses, with Remainer Andrew Adonis holding nothing back on Twitter.
“I have never seen a British prime minister more isolated & humiliated at a summit than Mrs May at Salzburg. Brexit is turning us into the laughing stock of Europe,” he wrote.
“Parliament should be recalled for Monday now the EU has rejected Mrs May’s Brexit policy. We can’t carry on as a country with no policy whatever.”
He also mocked May’s assertion that there’d be no second referendum, writing: “Sorry Prime Minister, it’s Parliament that decides, not you. This isn’t Hungary.”
The reference to Hungary is a dig at Conservative MEPs’ decision to vote against the censure of Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban, who has been accused of antisemitism, racist remarks and violating press freedoms.
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Deputy Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson, who supports a second referendum, told Sky News: “Chequers is dead - it is official.The EU27 could not be clearer. Chequers is over, whatever Theresa May might suggest. Whatever comes out of the negotiations now will inevitably be a very bad deal for Britain.”
Shadow Brexit secretary sir Keir Starmer, who accused Dominic Raab earlier this week of “wasting his time on silly gimmicks” for writing him a letter seeking “urgent clarification” on Labour’s Brexit policy, said:
"It has been clear for weeks that Theresa May’s Chequers proposals cannot deliver the comprehensive plan we need to protect jobs, the economy and avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland. With just weeks to go until a deal must be struck, the prime minister cannot keep ignoring this reality. She needs to urgently drop her reckless red lines and put forward a credible plan for Brexit."
And Jacob Rees-Mogg, a proponent of a hard Brexit or no deal option, simply tweeted: "Chequers goes pop".