'It won't work': European Union leaders eviscerate May's Brexit plan


European leaders on Thursday toughened their stance against a British proposal on how to structure their future relationship, with the European Council president saying Prime Minister Theresa May's controversial "Chequers" plan "will not work".

Her plan for Britain to follow EU rules on trade in goods after Brexit, despite leaving the bloc's single market and customs union, has already sparked a backlash among eurosceptics at home.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney said negotiations on the Brexit withdrawal deal needed to be ramped up after British prime minister Theresa May told European leaders Chequers was the only route to a deal.

May has said her plans represent the "only serious credible" way to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Tusk, meanwhile, said that the upcoming October summit would be the "moment of truth" for reaching a deal, and that "if the conditions are there" another summit would be held in November to "formalize" it.

"The Brexit teaches us something - and I completely respect British sovereignty when I say that - it showed that those who say that we can easily live without Europe, that everything is going to be alright, and that it's going to bring in a lot of money are liars", he said.

The political turmoil has sparked growing calls in Britain for a re-run of the 2016 Brexit vote - calls echoed by both the Maltese and Czech leaders in Salzburg.

After a dinner of Wiener schnitzel in Salzburg, EU leaders said they would push for a Brexit deal next month but rejected May's proposal.

Mrs May faces a fight with angry Conservatives at her party's conference in 10 days.

A second said May seemed to be edging toward compromise, offering new proposals on how to avoid differing economic regulations disrupting trade and speaking of a "middle way": "She spoke".

As for trade, there remained little agreement between the two parties.

Casting more doubt on the talks, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker claimed a Brexit deal was still "far away".

"It was clear today that we need substantial progress by October and that we then aim to finalise everything in November", Dr Merkel told reporters as the summit ended. "Now we expect a willingness to compromise from the British, hopefully to bring about a deal", Kurz said before the meeting of European Union leaders. "We need tough, clear and precise guarantees".

May's "Chequers plan" - named for the prime minister's country retreat where it was hammered out in July - aims to keep the U.K.in the European Union single market for goods but not services, in order to ensure free trade with the bloc and an open border between the U.K.'s Northern Ireland and European Union member Ireland.

May says she can not accept having customs checks within the United Kingdom.

Future ties Despite continued hopes of a deal, both sides are also preparing for the possibility that Britain stumbles into a chaotic and damaging break-up.

The backstop would keep Northern Ireland under EU economic oversight if London and Brussels can not agree a trade pact to keep UK-EU borders open, an idea that May and a small party in the province that props up her minority government oppose.

Describing the consequences of a no-deal Brexit as "damaging and severe", Mr Coveney said there was an onus on the negotiation teams to find a solution.