Theresa May says she wants to clarify several issues. She says she wants to be clear that the rights of EU citizens will be protected in the event of no deal.
The prime minister made clear she is bruised by her treatment in Salzburg. Her comments that she has treated the EU with respect and expects similar treatment were particularly pointed.
However, there’s relatively little that has changed on substance. May defended her plan for a common rulebook on goods and a facilitated customs arrangement as the only path to respecting the referendum result and avoiding a hard border in Northern Ireland.
Those were the two issues that she said there was still considerable distance between the two parties.
Neither of the two options on the table from the EU could ever be acceptable, she said. A Norway-style arrangement where the UK remained in the single market would not respect the referendum result, she said, because it would mean continued free movement and leave the UK as a “rule taker.”
May said a Canada-style FTA, the other option on offer, would only be offered if Northern Ireland remained in the customs union and parts of the single market, something that risked a border down the Irish sea and the break up of the UK.
She ended with a good faith offer both to people in Northern Ireland and EU citizens, saying she would protect their rights. But she issued a veiled warning to EU leaders that there was no prospect of the UK reversing its decision, or calling another referendum.
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