European Council president Donald Tusk has said a compromise with the UK over Brexit is ‘still possible’, after Theresa May warned she was prepared to walk away from talks.
In a statement, Tusk said he was a ‘true admirer’ of the PM.
But he defended the EU’s approach and said it was in fact May who had been ‘tough’ and ‘uncompromising’.
May on Friday demanded more respect from Brussels after EU leaders rejected a major part of her Brexit plan.
She had tried to sell her blueprint, which was agreed by ministers at Chequers, to EU countries at a summit in Salzburg, Austria, this week.
But the EU said the new economic partnership she had put forward “will not work” and risked “undermining the single market”.
The UK is due to leave the EU on 29 March 2019 - but the two sides are trying to reach a deal by November so it can be ratified in time, says a BBC report.
Tusk issued a statement on Friday evening, hours after May delivered her own speech in Downing Street in which she said the EU’s rejection of her plan without offering an alternative was ‘unacceptable’.
Tusk said EU leaders at the summit had treated her proposals with ‘all seriousness’ and said they were a ‘step in the right direction’.
Britain had known about the EU’s reservations over the Chequers plan for weeks, he added.
Tusk said: “While understanding the logic of the negotiations, I remain convinced that a compromise, good for all, is still possible.”
“I say these words as a close friend of the UK and a true admirer of PM May.”
‘Defiant’ May: How the papers reacted
May’s statement dominates many of Saturday’s front pages.
The Express calls her speech her ‘finest hour’ and says she was right to demand respect from the EU and the Daily Mail says May “confronted the arrogance of the EU elite with unyielding, level-headed reason” and describes the EU’s behaviour in Salzburg as ‘shabby’.
The Sun describes it as May’s ‘Brexit fightback’ while the i draws a comparison to Margaret Thatcher with a headline that reads: “May tells EU: I’m not for turning”.
But the Daily Telegraph says the prime minister is facing a showdown with her cabinet next week when ministers will call for a ‘Plan B’ alternative to the Chequers proposals.
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