British Prime Minister Theresa May today tried to play the ‘plucky little Britain being bullied by Europe’ card in a desperate appeal to public opinion to salvage her Chequers proposal.
At a summit in Austria this week EU heads of government repeated what they had said for months before hand that they cannot support her request for the UK to be in a single market for goods but not for services.
She also claimed that EU proposals for the emergency back stop in Northern Ireland – applying EU rules to the whole of the island – was an attempt to keep Northern Ireland in the Customs Union and break up the United Kingdom.
She said Britain and the EU were at an impasse and with breath-taking hypocrisy called on the EU to come forward with its ‘real’ reasons for objecting to the UK plans – already rejected by both factions of her own party and most of Parliament ahead of any vote.
She did attempt to offer reassurance to the 3m EU citizens living in the UK and promised their rights would be protected even in the event of no deal.
Seasoned observers wryly noted that it was May as Home Secretary who blocked such an offer from her predecessor as Tory leader and PM David Cameron when he tried to renegotiate London’s relationship with the rest of the EU.
Mrs May was also the Home Secretary for several years presiding over policies which led ultimately to the Windrush scandal and the wrongful deportations of UK citizens and denial of employment rights and health care.
Mrs May said the UK has “treated the EU with nothing but respect” and “the UK expects the same”.
She said: “A good relationship at the end of this process depends on it.”
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who met Mrs May for talks in Austria, has said he does not believe that there will be a no-deal Brexit.
Mr Varadkar, speaking at the National Ploughing Championships in Cleggan, Offaly, said that he is working every day with other European leaders to avoid a no-deal hard Brexit.
But, he warned, Ireland is entering uncertain times over the next few weeks.
He thought a deal would be reached before the end of the year – under Article 50 the UK is due to withdraw from the EU by the end of next March – but said he would prefer one much sooner.