British Prime Minister Theresa May says Britain won’t flinch in an impasse with the European Union about its departure from the bloc, as French and German ministers suggested the next move in the negotiations should come from London.
May on Friday demanded new proposals and respect from European Union leaders, saying after a summit in Austria that talks had hit an impasse and, in a prominent eurosceptic Sunday newspaper, she stuck to her guns.
“This is the moment to do what is right for Britain,” May said in the Sunday Express. “Now is the time for cool heads. And it is a time to hold our nerve.”
The Sunday Times reported that her aides had begun contingency planning for a November snap election to help save the Brexit talks and her job.
May won plaudits in her party and from the press for standing up to the European Union, ahead of her Conservative party’s annual conference, which starts at the end of the month.
Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt had told BBC radio on Saturday that if EU leaders expected the UK to capitulate, then they had “profoundly misjudged the British people”, even if that meant leaving the bloc next March without a deal.
“We may be polite, but we have a bottom line,” he said. “And so they need to engage with us now in seriousness.”
Initial reactions from across the English Channel suggested France and Germany were digging in, too.
After May’s Friday statement, European Council President Donald Tusk said 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”.
Should May get a deal, opposition Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn said he would not support it unless it protected jobs and living standards. The Independent reported that Corbyn would try and force a general election within days if MPs reject the Brexit deal.
“We will challenge this government on whatever deal it brings back,” Corbyn told a rally in Liverpool, northern England, on the eve of Labour’s annual conference.
“And if this government can’t deliver, then I simply say to Theresa May the best way to settle this is by having a general election.”