Tory Brexit plan rejected by EU
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has described the plan outlined by Theresa May as ‘not workable.’
The crux of the disagreement rests on the twin issues which have plagued the Brexit negotiations from the very beginning - customs and the Northern Irish border. The EU is uncomfortable with the UK collecting EU customs without being under EU oversight - an obvious reality if the UK remains outside of the customs union.
Barnier appeared to reject May’s call for the EU to ‘evolve’ on the Northern Ireland issue. He added:
“We cannot afford to lose time on this issue, and this is why we have invited the UK to work on the backstop next week.
“We are working on the basis of what was agreed in March with Theresa May.”
After a three hour meeting Barnier concluded that “I am not negotiating, of course, on the basis of the white paper.”
The problem for Theresa May is that even her erstwhile allies seem unsure whether the Chequers plan has staying power. Jeremy Hunt described the deal as a ‘substantive offer’, but refused to say it was the final offer on the table.
Parliament has also forced May’s hand on a number of issues. A surprise defeat on the European Medical Agency last week will make negotiations even trickier. The government is stuck between its small contingent of pro-remainers and ultra-hard Brexiteers.