Farage vows return while Barnier reiterates indivisibility of EU’s four freedoms as Brussels reacts to Theresa May's Brexit proposals
Emotions run high as MEPs and EU negotiators react to 'Checkers' Brexit plan
UK PM Theresa May outlines her Brexit plans to ministers at Chequers | Photo credit: Joel Rouse/Crown Copyright/PA Wire/PA Images
Former UKIP leader and Brexit architect Nigel Farage has pledged to return to mainstream politics following a flurry of high profile resignations from UK premier Theresa May’s government over the direction of the country’s Brexit negotiations.
Farage, in an interview with broadcaster Fox News, said British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Chequers Brexit white paper plan, which prompted the resignation of her chief Brexit negotiator David Davis and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, “was nothing less than a total betrayal of what people had voted for in that referendum and a general election."
He added, “What I know in my heart is that if Theresa May stays as Prime Minister we will not get control back of our borders, our laws, our courts, and our money. It will be a fudge and leave us in a very bad place.”
And he vowed that, “Unless Brexit is back on track by March 2019, I will seriously consider putting my name forward to return as UKIP leader. The will of 17.4m voters must be carried out.”
Several of Farage’s Eurosceptic colleagues also reacted angrily to Theresa May’s attempt to outmanoeuvre the country’s leading Brexiteers at a cabinet weekend away day at the Prime minister’s country residence, Checkers, with many accusing her of attempting to pursue a British EU exit in name only.
Current UKIP Leader Gerard Batten said, “The Checkers agreement is a complete betrayal of Brexit and everything it was meant to be. It is a surrender document to the European Union.
Former UKIP MEP Roger Helmer meanwhile argued that “May’s claim that her Brexit plan delivers on Tory manifesto commitments to take back control of money, laws and borders is a self-evident falsehood. Does she take us for fools? Or has she lost touch with reality?”
Helmer tweeted, “May’s plan would leave the UK as a permanent Brussels colony. Subject to the acquis and the ECJ. No real border control. Unable to do our own trade deals. Arguably worse than continued EU membership.”
“Unless Brexit is back on track by March 2019, I will seriously consider putting my name forward to return as UKIP leader. The will of 17.4m voters must be carried out” Nigel Farage MEP
However, British Conservative party MEP Emma McClarkin, who campaigned to leave the EU, sent out a series of messages on social media calling on people not to be fooled by the media hype surrounding the Davis/Johnson resignations and reassured doubters that Theresa May’s Checkers plan was true to Brexit.
“For those still in any doubt. Brexit still means Brexit. It’s still happening. Regardless. Delivering the democratic vote of the British people is our duty. We are leaving. The debate is on what is the right deal for the UK. That does not include staying in the EU as an option. Brexit is happening.”
She added, “I am a committed Brexiteer. I’m sat in meetings where people are saying “Brexit is not happening. UK is not leaving” It is and I am committed to make sure we are. The current proposal is not the final deal. Far, far from it. But to be clear we will leave the EU.”
Irish national broadcaster RTÉ news meanwhile reports what appeared to be an out of hand rejection by the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier of a central aspect of the Checkers plan, a deal on single-market membership for goods only.
RTÉ Europe Editor Tony Connelly said that Barnier, speaking at the US Council on Foreign Relations in New York earlier this week, warned, "Everybody will understand that we will protect the single market which is based on the indivisibility of what we call the four freedoms, of movement, for people, goods, services and capital."
“We could have been talking about real solutions to the problems people face rather than the absurd fantasy-project we’re all embroiled in. So much wasted time. Enough already - Britain deserves better” Seb Dance MEP
"The British government has always had a very high degree of influence in building the single market. They know the rules. They know the indivisibility of the four freedoms."
However, there are signs that the EU may soften its hard-line stance in the wake of the Checkers White paper, with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar giving a guarded welcome to May’s Chequers proposals.
Both the Irish Taoiseach and EU negotiators have said they will not fully comment May’s plan’s until after the Brexit White Paper’s official publication on Thursday 12 June.
Meanwhile, the European Parliament’s Brexit Coordinator Guy Verhofstadt said he had “enjoyed” his discussions with David Davis and hoped that the new-look UK government could, “unite around a position to conclude an agreement with the EU. It is in the interest of both that we move the negotiations forward.”
British Labour MEP Seb Dance, who famously held us a self-penned sign behind Nigel Farage that said “he's lying to you,” was more scathing, saying, “We could have been talking about real solutions to the problems people face rather than the absurd fantasy-project we’re all embroiled in. So much wasted time. Enough already - Britain deserves better.”
He tweeted, “In Westminster, there’s little will (regrettably - there really should be more) to stop Brexit. There’s no support for the Chequers proposal. There’s no majority for No Deal. So what happens now?”
Fellow British socialist deputy Richard Corbett was even more scathing, particularly of Boris Johnson, tweeting, “Hopefully the end of a disgraceful career that has immeasurably damaged Britain and its people.”
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