Theresa May in Austria in attempt to revive Chequers Brexit plan
Brexit Theresa May in Austria in attempt to revive Chequers Brexit plan
Former minister says EU may leave UK facing choice between no deal or âfinal capitulationâ
Theresa May is launching a final pre-holiday push to get her Chequers plan back on track, as one of her former ministers said the E Uâs attitude risked the UK facing a choice between a no-deal departure or âfinal capitulationâ to Brussels.
A day after Michel Barnier appeared to scupper a key element of the prime ministerâs proposal by saying the UK could not collect EU tariffs under a future customs arrangement, May was in Austria for talks with its chancellor,Sebastian Kurz.
She was also due to meet the Czech prime minister, Andrej BabiÅ¡, and attend a music festival in Salzburg as a guest of Kurz.
May is seemingly keen to explore whether the Austrian and Czech governments, both of which have had differences with Brussels, could take a softer line to that given by Barnier, the EUâs chief negotiator.
At a press conference on Thursday alongside the new Brexit secretary, Barnier dismissed the basis of Mayâs plan for a facilitated customs arrangements, saying the EU âcannot and will not delegate the application of its customs policy and rules, VAT and duty collection to a n on-member who would not be subject to the EU governance structuresâ.With Mayâs Brexit plan rejected, the Tories are stuck | Martha Gill Read more
His comments prompted Steve Baker, the former junior Brexit minister turned strong leave voice on the Tory backbenches, to say the EU seemed intent on pushing Britain into a deal involving membership of the European Economic Area (EEA) and customs union.
âChequers was bound to be the beginning of the EU pushing the UK to the unacceptable combination of EEA and customs union membership,â Baker said. âOn this road, eventually we will reach a fork between final capitulation or exit with no agreement.â
It was, he added, âfar better to find the political and administrative will to solve the problems of the UK border with Ireland through an advanced FTA (free-trade agreement)â.
At the talks, after which May will begin a holiday in Italy and Switzerland with a brief return to London in b etween, she will gauge whether individual EU member states could nudge Barnier and his team into taking a different view.
But at the Friday press conference, Barnier warned against this: âAnyone who wants to find a sliver of difference between my mandate and what the heads of government say they want are wasting their time, quite frankly.â
He was backed up by the Czech Europe minister, AleÅ¡ ChmelaÅ, who said on Friday there was a fundamental problem with Mayâs customs plan, in which the UK and EU would collect any differing tariffs for each other.
âThere is a clear problem with the fact that the EU will not have a mechanism to control its borders and it would be delegated â" without any EU control â" to a third country, which would be Britain after March,â he told BBC Radio 4âs Today programme.
âSo, that is the key principle. But also there is a larger general principle ... it is almost physically impossible to have, at the same time, fu ll regulatory autonomy on one side and full market access.â
May also faces renewed pressure over any possible thoughts on delaying Brexit to find more time to seek a solution.
Liam Fox, the international trade secretary, told Business Insider that voters would see such a move as âa complete betrayal by the political class, and I think they would be rightâ.Topics
- Theresa May
- European Union
- Foreign policy
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