BRITISH Prime Minister Theresa May is facing a number of cabinet resignations if she does not change course on her Brexit proposal, the UK Telegraphhas reported.
With British newspapers declaring that May had been “humiliated” by EU leaders at a summit in Salzburg, Austria, the prime minister used a televised statement in 10 Downing St on Friday to tell the bloc, essentially, to put up or shut up.
It comes as the president of the European Council Donald Tusk mocked May on an Instagram story — a move which has enraged millions of Brexit supporters.
In the picture of the prime minister and himself at the cake stand he wrote: “A piece of cake, perhaps? Sorry, no cherries.”
The roasting is a reference to a running joke in Brussels that Britain wants to “have its cake and eat it” in talks and “cherrypick” the things it like about the EU in its new deal.
“At this stage in the negotiations, it is not acceptable to simply reject the other side’s proposals without a detailed explanation and counter proposals,” May said.
Declaring that “we are at an impasse”, May said the EU must lay out “what the real issues are and what their alternative is”.
“Until we do, we cannot make progress,” she said.
The Telegraph said some ministers will demand an alternative plan to the one May has put forward at a cabinet meeting on Monday.
The report said work and pensions minister Esther McVey might walk out of Monday’s meeting if no new proposal was presented, while international development minister Penny Mordaunt was also tipped as a possible resignation candidate.
May’s combative statement followed a fraught Salzburg summit, at which Mr Tusk said parts of the UK’s plan simply “will not work”.
The EU should be clear: I will not overturn the result of the referendum. Nor will I break up my country. pic.twitter.com/fYhIgGWV1Q
— Theresa May (@theresa_may)
A rattled May insisted that her plan was the only one on the table – and that Britain was prepared to walk away from the EU without a deal if it was rejected. “Throughout this process, I have treated the EU with nothing but respect,” she said on Friday.
“The UK expects the same. A good relationship at the end of this process depends on it.”
The rocky EU summit dashed British hopes of a breakthrough in stalled divorce talks, with just six months to go until Britain leaves the bloc on March 29. The judgment of British newspapers was brutal.
May’s “Chequers plan” – named for the prime minister’s country retreat where it was hammered out in July – aims to keep the UK in the EU single market for goods but not services, in order to ensure free trade with the bloc and an open border between the UK’s Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland.
EU officials have been cool on the plan from the start, saying Britain can’t “cherry-pick” elements of membership in the bloc without accepting all the costs and responsibilities.
In her statement on Friday, May said she would “never agree” to “any form of customs border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK”. Arlene Foster, the head of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party which supports May’s government, welcomed the Prime Minister’s tough stance against “disrespectful, intransigent and disgraceful” behaviour by the EU. She said her party would veto any attempt to introduce a new regulatory barrier between the region and the rest of the United Kingdom.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called May’s statement “dreadful” and warned that May’s party would pay a high political price if there was “no deal”. In response to May’s statement, the Confederation of British Industry and other business bodies said they wanted to see constructive dialogue, not rhetoric. May hinted there could be a way forward, saying there needed to be “serious engagement” on resolving the two big problems in the negotiations – trade and the Irish border.
“We stand ready,” she said.