Theresa May warns that Brexit talks are 'at an impasse' and says UK must prepare for no deal

  • Theresa May warns that Brexit talks are deadlocked.
  • The Prime Minister says she will not accept EU proposals on the Northern Ireland border.
  • She accuses the EU of failing to show the UK respect.
  • She says Britain will now step up its preparations for walking away without a deal.

LONDON – Brexit talks are “at an impasse” and the UK must step up its preparations for leaving the EU without a deal, Prime Minister Theresa May warned today.

In a dramatic statement in Downing Street, May accused the EU of failing to show Britain “respect” in negotiations, following a day in which EU leaders publicly humiliated the prime minister at a summit in Salzburg.

“‘We must and will prepare ourselves for no deal,” May said, adding that the UK would not accept any Brexit deal that risked the break-up of the United Kingdom.

She added: “No one wants a good deal more than me, but the EU should be clear: I will not overturn the result of the referendum. Nor will I break up my country.

“Anything which fails to respect the referendum or which effectively divides our country in two would be a bad deal, and I have always said no deal is better than a bad deal.”

A sour summit

Theresa May SalzburgSean Gallup/Getty Images

May’s speech followed the end of summit talks on Thursday which had initially been billed as a chance for European diplomats and leaders to offer the prime minister words of support and shore up backing for a Brexit deal at home.

But that goodwill evaporated after Theresa May – with one eye on placating Tory Brexiteers ahead of next week’s party conference – bluntly rejected overtures from Michel Barnier for a “new, improved” solution for the Irish border, warning the UK was prepared to walk away from a deal if the EU did not offer significant compromises.

A summit characterised by goodwill quickly turned sour, with European Council president Donald Tusk warning that Chequers “will not work.”

French president Emmanuel Macron piled on May’s proposals, warning: “We all agreed on this today, the proposals in their current state are not acceptable, especially on the economic side of it. The Chequers plan cannot be take it or leave it.”

EU citizens ‘protected’ under no-deal Brexit

May also used the speech to tell EU citizens living in the UK that their rights would be secured in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

She said: “There are over 3 million EU citizens living in the UK who will be understandably worried about what the outcome of yesterday’s summit means for their future.” “I want to be clear with you that even in the event of no deal your rights will be protected. You are our friends, our neighbours, our colleagues. We want you to stay.”

She also said that the UK would do “everything in its power” to prevent a hard border from emerging between Ireland and Northern Ireland in the event of no deal. Experts have warned that a hard border would be inevitable because the border would become an external frontier of the EU’s boundaries.

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