May presses her Brexit plan with EU

Published: September 20, 2018 00:04:04

Theresa May

Prime Minister Theresa May will press EU leaders on Wednesday to back her proposal for a "fair arrangement" on future ties between Britain and the bloc, call off "unacceptable" demands and show the goodwill needed to avoid a disorderly Brexit, reports Reuters.

Before a two-day European Union summit starts on Wednesday evening, May showed no sign of backing away from her Brexit plan, shrugging off criticism at home and in Brussels over her proposals for future trade relations, the biggest policy shift for Britain in almost half a century.

She may arrive in Austria feeling more optimistic after the EU's negotiator Michel Barnier signaled he was ready to do more to address her concerns on Northern Ireland, which will have the only UK land border with the bloc after Brexit day.

But a British government source said London could not accept the province being separated off from the UK customs territory and Barnier's comments only got a hostile reception from a small Northern Irish party on which May relies on in parliament.

The summit opens in Salzburg with a leaders' dinner that has become a significant staging post in a carefully choreographed series of meetings with the EU before Britain leaves in March.

With just over six months to go, time is pressing and both sides are keen to secure some kind of deal before the end of the year and ease concerns over a disorderly exit, which could plunge the economy into a downturn.

Writing in Germany's Die Welt, May said the two sides were "near to achieving the orderly withdrawal that is an essential basis for building a close future partnership".

"To come to a successful conclusion, just as the UK has evolved its position, the EU will need to do the same.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May attends the National Housing Summit in London, September 19, 2018. Frank Augstein/Pool via Reuters

"With goodwill and determination on both sides we can avoid a disorderly exit and find new ways of working together."

At the dinner at the spectacular Felsenreitschule theater - known to film fans for a scene in the musical 'The Sound of Music' - May will make another pitch for support for her Chequers plan, named after her country residence where a deal was hashed out with her ministers earlier this year.

Then she will be out of the room on Thursday afternoon, when the other 27 leaders discuss her Brexit proposals.

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