Brexit: Chequers won't work, EU leaders tell May

Expanding on comments he has been making for some weeks, Mr Barnier told reporters after briefing European Union ministers on Tuesday, that he was reworking his proposals to make clear how, in the event the "insurance policy" were ever activated, it would not create a physical customs border on the Irish Sea but operate by checks on goods along the Britain-Northern Ireland route.

But, she added, "that backstop can not divide the United Kingdom into two customs territories, and we will be bringing forward our own proposals shortly".

The domestic difficulties facing Mrs May - which European Union leaders are all too aware of - were further illustrated as it emerged her former Brexit secretary David Davis has described Chequers as a "non-starter".

But European Council president Donald Tusk stressed that economic aspects of Mrs May's Chequers proposals "will not work", while former Brexit secretary David Davis disclosed a "rock-solid core" of up to 40 Tory colleagues could vote against the Government's favoured approach.

French president Emmanuel Macron said: "We have very clear principles about the integrity of the single market".

In response, May said Britain was preparing to leave the bloc without an agreement on the terms of its departure unless there is a proposal it deems acceptable.

Future UK Prime Ministers must not be allowed to unpickTheresa May's Brexit deal after she leaves No 10, Brussels has warned.

"But the senior British source said Britain believed momentum was growing for a deal, noting Tusk's plan to convene a special summit in mid-November to ink a hoped-for treaty".

Mr Tusk said a Brussels summit on Oct 18 would be a "moment of truth" to overcome remaining big problems and leaders pencilled in the weekend of Nov 17-18 to formalise a final agreement.

At a news conference at the conclusion of the summit, Mrs May struck a defiant tone, saying she had always expected negotiating "tactics" to be used during the course of the Brexit process.

A senior No 10 source said she would tell them the UK's position had "evolved" and that the European Union would need to do the same if they were to get an agreement.

"The Commission's proposal for this protocol - that I should assent to a legal separation of the United Kingdom into two customs territories - is not credible", said May. "You can't belong to the single market if you are not part of the single market, but you can develop a lot of creativity to find practical, good, close solutions".

"Our White Paper remains the only serious and credible proposition on the table for achieving that objective".

Tusk said he would call an additional summit in mid-November to seal any deal with Britain.

Mr Tusk insisted that despite the EU's reservations about the Chequers plan, he is "a little more optimistic" about the prospect of a "positive outcome".

Eventually one side - or more likely, both - "is going to have to blink to avoid no deal, and Downing Street is hoping that the PM has done enough to get Brussels to budge more", says The Times's Matt Chorley.

But Mrs May slapped down any suggestion that her government could hold a so-called People's Vote.

European leaders will gather Wednesday for a summit to put summer tensions over migration behind them and to set up the last stretch of talks for a Brexit deal.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar complained that May had not presented any fresh proposals for the Irish border, despite promising them. But they were confident of getting a fair wind for the controversial compromise she agreed with her Cabinet in the heat of the summer.

According to one person familiar with the matter, the special summit will be called for November 17-18 - a weekend - but leaders made a decision to keep it conditional on more progress in an effort to add to the pressure on May to concede further ground.

Mr Dodds reiterated the DUP wants to preserve the political, constitutional and economic "integrity" of the United Kingdom, describing this as an "absolute priority".

  • Rogelio Becker