European Union leaders will push for a Brexit deal next month but warned Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday that if she will not give ground on trade and the Irish border by November they are ready to cope with Britain crashing out.
“Don’t worry, be happy,” joked EU chief executive Jean-Claude Juncker after telling reporters after a summit in Austria that the Europeans had full plans in place in the event there was no deal before Britain leaves next March.
May promised new proposals to reassure Dublin that it would not get a “hard border” with the British province of Northern Ireland but warned she too could live with a no-deal outcome — though many round the summit table in picturesque Salzburg see that as more of a negotiating tactic than a credible threat.
She said her “Chequers” proposals for trade with the EU, intended also to resolve arguments over the borders of Northern Ireland, were the only way forward. EU leaders repeated their view the plans would undermine their cherished single market.