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News | Published September 21 2018

Theresa May addresses media at No.10

Prime minister Theresa May addressed the press this afternoon after returning from a summit with the European Council. Her speech suggested that negotiations remain at an impasse but was careful to confirm that there would be no deal that would threaten to break up the UK or which "makes a mockery" of the outcome of the 2016 referendum.

May explained that the UK had been offered two clear options with regards to the economic relationship between the UK and the EU. The first of these involves the country remaining in the EEA and thus maintaining the vast majority of regulations which the referendum sought to discard. The second would constitute a basic trade agreement which would include border checks and the separation of Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK. May emphatically stated that parliament had unanimously rejected any proposal which would threaten the unity of the United Kingdom. She stressed that a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic would never be agreed to. Reiterating that she believed no deal was better than a bad deal, May rejected both of these options.

Key Features
  • May calls for counter proposals from the EU 
  • May rejects any notion that Northern Ireland could be separated from the rest of the UK
  • The speech ended with the emphatic statement: "We are ready"

The Prime Minister stressed that she had proposed a third option which would circumvent these two non-negotiables. This was rejected as the EU stated that it would undermine the unity of the single market and the wider union itself.

May emphatically stated that Parliament had unanimously rejected any proposal which would threaten the unity of the United Kingdom. She stressed that a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic would never be agreed to. 

May continued that the EU desired the UK to remain within the customs union, but any proposal which undermined the unity of the UK or rejected the results of the referendum would be rejected. She vowed to propose an alternative plan which would maintain the commitments made in September.

Beyond legislative issues, May called for a greater level of respect from the EU. She stressed that the UK had treated the European Union with respect throughout, and it was essential that they returned this courtesy. The prime minister said that is was unacceptable that the EU had rejected her proposals without any counteroffer or explanation. She called for alternatives to her Chequers plan and confirmed that the government was preparing for a no-deal scenario, citing her long held stance that “no deal is better than a bad deal”. 

May also outlined two guarantees in the case of a no-deal scenario. The first of these concerned the three million EU citizens currently living in the UK. She maintained that their rights would be protected no matter the outcome of the negotiations. She also sought to reassure the residents of Northern Ireland, stating that the UK government would do everything in their power to prevent the establishment of a hard border. 

She later reiterated that the referendum was the largest democratic exercise in the country’s history, and that to ignore its results would threaten public trust in the democratic process. She talked about her own efforts over the last two years to ensure that the UK got the best possible deal and that the outcome of the referendum was respected. She ended the speech on an emphatic note, stressing that “We stand ready.”

She called for alternatives to her Chequers plan and also confirmed that the government was preparing for a no-deal scenario, citing her long held stance that “no deal is better than a bad deal”.