Britain tells EU to engage seriously on Brexit, EU demurs
* Foreign minister Hunt says UK won't capitulate
* May had demanded respect after Salzburg summit
* French minister: need to prepare for 'no deal' exit
* German deputy minister: don't play the blame game
(Adds Davis comment from Brexit event, BoE report)
By Alistair Smout
LONDON, Sept 22 (Reuters) - Britain said on Saturday it
would not "capitulate" to EU demands in Brexit talks and again
urged its partners to engage with its proposals, as French and
German ministers suggested the next move in the negotiations
should come from London.
British Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday demanded new
proposals and respect from European Union leaders, saying after
a summit in Austria that talks had hit an impasse - a position
her foreign minister reinforced on Saturday, even if that meant
leaving the bloc next March without a deal.
"If the EU's view is that just by saying no to every
proposal made by the United Kingdom, we will eventually
capitulate and end up either with a Norway option or indeed
staying in the EU... then they've profoundly misjudged he
British people," Jeremy Hunt told BBC radio.
"We may be polite, but we have a bottom line. And so they
need to engage with us now in seriousness."
May's defiant statement was welcomed on Saturday by many in
the British press that had seen the Salzburg summit as a failure
for her. The strongly eurosceptic Daily Express said it was
"May's finest hour".
But initial reactions from across the English Channel
suggested France and Germany were digging in too.
EU leaders and May have said they want to get a deal agreed
in October, to be finalised in November.
In Paris, Minister for European Affairs Nathalie Loiseau
said that, while France still believed a good Brexit deal was
possible, it must also prepare for a 'no deal' outcome.
Britain's vote to leave "cannot lead to the EU going bust,"
she said on France Info radio. "That's the message we have tried
to send for several months now to our British counterparts, who
may have thought we were going to say 'yes' to whatever deal
they came up with."
In Berlin, German Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Roth said
the other 27 EU states were striving to achieve reasonable
solutions. "The blame game against the EU is therefore more than
unfair. We can't solve the problems that are arising on the
island (Britain) due to Brexit," he said on Twitter.
In London, the pro-Brexit Daily Telegraph reported that May
faced the prospect of ministerial resignations next week if she
failed to come up with an alternative to the "Chequers" Brexit
plan that she presented in Austria.
But domestically, even some critics of May's plan backed the
prime minister in her standoff against the EU.
"I have a serious difference of opinion with our prime
minister. But, even so, I have to tell you that I view the
behaviour of the European Union leaders in Salzburg with
contempt," David Davis, the former Brexit minister who resigned
in protest at Chequers, said in a speech at a "Leave Means
Leave" rally in the northern English town of Bolton.
"Disrespect our prime minister, and you disrespect our
After May's Friday statement, European Council President
Donald Tusk said that the results of the EU's analysis of that
plan had been known to Britain for many weeks. But Hunt said
there was a difference between rhetoric and substance.
"On the substance of the Chequers proposals, we have not had
a detailed response," he said, adding that EU proposals for the
Irish border would mean that it was impossible "to leave the EU
intact as one country".
May has accepted the need for a "backstop" insurance policy
on the Irish border, but says the EU's version of the proposal
would see Northern Ireland carved off from the United Kingdom.
The EU says May's proposal, keeping the province and
mainland Britain in the same regulatory space, undermines the
Despite the differences, Ireland's Foreign Minister Simon
Coveney told RTE radio an Irish backstop was "doable" by an
BUMPY AND DIFFICULT
Hunt said Britain wanted a deal but would be able to
withstand a no-deal Brexit.
"Even in a situation where we aren't able to come to an
agreement, we would be trading on World Trade Organisation
terms. It would be bumpy, it would be difficult, but we would
find a way to survive and prosper as a country," Hunt said.
"We've had far bigger challenges in our history."
In Berlin, magazine Der Spiegel said Germany's government
expected the impact of a no-deal Brexit on its labour market to
be "relatively small". It cited a government response to a
request for information from the far-left Linke party.
However, the Times reported that Bank of England Governor
Mark Carney had told May's ministers that no Brexit deal could
mean a fall of GDP in the rest of the EU of between 1 and 1.25
percent, without citing sources. The BoE declined to comment.
(Reporting by Alistair Smout; additiional reporting by Michel
Rose in Paris, Michelle Martin in Berlin and Conor Humphries in
Dublin; editing by John Stonestreet and Gareth Jones)
First Published: 2018-09-22 11:45:38
Updated 2018-09-22 19:37:58
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