Theresa May hits back after EU trashes her Brexit plan
LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Theresa May challenged the European Union on Friday to break the “impasse” in Brexit negotiations, fighting back after the bloc threw divorce negotiations into doubt by labelling May’s blueprint for leaving the bloc unworkable.
With British newspapers declaring that May had been “humiliated” by EU leaders at a summit in Salzburg, Austria, She used a televised statement in 10 Downing Street to tell the bloc, essentially, to put up or shut up.
“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 pound fell on May’s comments, which seemed to make the prospect of an economically disruptive “no deal” Brexit more likely.
The currency was trading down a sharp 1.5 percent on the day at $1.3066.
May’s combative statement followed a fraught Salzburg summit, at which European Council President Donald Tusk said parts of the U.K.’s plan simply “will not work.”
French President Emmanuel Macron called pro-Brexit U.K. politicians “liars” who had misled the country about the costs of leaving the 28-nation bloc.
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 Friday.
“The U.K. 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.