Theresa May tells EU to come up with new Brexit border proposal

Theresa May speaking in Downing Street in the aftermath of the Salzburg summit, saying that the EU must respect the UK in Brexit talks 
Andrew Woodcock, Press Association

Theresa May has called on the EU to come forward with fresh proposals on Northern Ireland and trade, warning that without a move from Brussels it will not be possible to make further progress in Brexit talks.

Speaking in 10 Downing Street a day after the humiliating rejection of her Brexit plans at the EU summit in Salzburg, the British prime minister recognised that negotiations had reached an "impasse".

But she dismissed EU suggestions that the onus is on Britain to shift its stance, insisting that the ball is now in the European Union's court.

Mrs May said she was ready to come forward with new ideas on unblocking the disagreement over future arrangements at the Irish border.

But, in apparent reference to European Council President Donald Tusk's assertion that her Chequers plan "will not work", she said: "At this late stage in the negotiations, it is not acceptable to simply reject the other side's proposals without a detailed explanation and new proposals.

"So we now need to hear from the European Union what the real issues are and what their proposals are so we can discuss them.

"Until we do, we can't make progress."

Mrs May added: "No-one wants a good deal more than me, but the European Union should be clear - I will not overturn the result of the referendum, nor will I break up my country.

"We need serious engagement on resolving the two big problems in the negotiations and we stand ready."

DUP Westminster leader Nigel Dodds welcomed the British prime minister's reassurances on the border issue, but called for her to now "stand up" for the UK's interests.

Mr Dodds, speaking to BBC News, said: "It is time now that the Prime Minister demonstrates publicly, privately and to everyone in her own party and to Europe, to Parliament, that she is going to stand up for the UK's interest, including in Northern Ireland, that she is not going to be pushed around by Europe, she's not going to be bullied, she's not going to be coerced into either doing a bad deal for the United Kingdom or breaking the United Kingdom."

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald: "Theresa May made a statement today which was billed as a major one in respect of Brexit negotiations. It was, regrettably, no more than an exercise in tired rhetoric.

"Rather than accepting that her so-called 'Chequers Plan' fails to resolve fundamental issues, Theresa May has engaged in deflection.

"Her 'Chequers Plan' falls short of what was contained in the December 'backstop' agreement, which her government already accepted. She needs to accept that reality.

"Her focus has unfortunately remained on infighting within in her own party and her pact with the DUP, instead of coming to an acceptable negotiating position.

"More than 18 months into talks and with time running out, she continues to show scant regard for Ireland, for our rights, for our economy and for our agreements.

"Her comments in respect of the north are particularly disingenuous given her pact with the DUP at Westminster is an active block on a return to power-sharing - through which she denies citizens' rights that are enjoyed everywhere else on these islands.

"The Irish government and the European Union must remain resolute in the face of British intransigence. They must remain true to their word that without an agreed, legally enforceable 'backstop' there will be no Withdrawal Agreement."

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