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21st Sep 2018

Theresa May’s speech references hard border, no-deal Brexit and Northern Ireland in the Customs Union

Kate Demolder

Uk Corporate Tax

“We will do everything in our power to prevent a return to a hard border.”

Theresa May has come out swinging with a highly-anticipated speech after EU leaders’ publically rejected her Chequers plan this week.

In the live speech – shared internationally from Downing Street – the Prime Minister accused the European Union of not treating the UK with respect a day after her plans were rejected at the Salzburg summit.

May spoke combatively, saying that throughout Brexit negotiations, she and her team had treated her counterparts with “nothing but respect” and added, “that the UK expects the same”.

“It is not acceptable to simply reject the other side’s proposals without a detailed explanation and counter-proposals. 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,” she said.

She also says the EU referendum was the biggest democratic exercise in the country’s history and that for over two years she has worked “day and night” and worked to “bring people with me.”

“No-one wants a good deal more than me, but the EU should be clear I will not overturn the result of the referendum, nor will I break up my country”.

The Prime Minister referenced a number of matters during the speech, including the Irish backstop and the impossibility of Northern Ireland remaining in the Customs Union.

“The EU is proposing to achieve this by effectively keeping Northern Ireland in the Customs Union. As I have already said, that is unacceptable.

“We will never agree to it. It would mean breaking up our country. We will set out our alternative that preserves the integrity of the UK.

She also tried to reassure the people of Northern Ireland, saying: “We will do everything in our power to prevent a return to a hard border.”

May finished by promising that the rights of EU citizens living in the UK will be protected even in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

“You are our friends, our neighbours, our colleagues. We want you to stay,” she tells them.

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