Theresa May has accused the European Union of not treating the UK with respect, in a hastily arranged Downing Street statement a day after she was humiliated at the Salzburg summit when EU leaders declared her Chequers plan would not work.
A combative prime minister said she stood by Chequers and added that throughout the Brexit negotiations she had treated her counterparts with “nothing but respect” and added: “The UK expects the same.”
May said the two sides remained “a long way apart” but insisted the UK was prepared to negotiate, and called on the EU to explain what it believed was wrong with her trade proposals, although significantly she did not mention Chequers by name.
“It is not acceptable to simply reject the other side’s proposals without a detailed explanation and counter proposals,” May said. “So we now need to hear from the EU what the real issues are and what their alternative is so that we can discuss them.”
The prime minister also signalled that the UK would unilaterally safeguard the rights of the EU citizens living in the country in an attempt to reassure them that the impasse in negotiations would not affect their status.
“There are over 3 million EU citizens living in the UK who will be understandably worried about what the outcome of yesterday’s summit means for their future. I want to be clear with you that even in the event of no deal your rights will be protected. You are our friends, our neighbours, our colleagues. We want you to stay,” May said.
Ministers are expected to confirm details in a couple of weeks, after the party conference season.