Theresa May's Speech: What Prime Minister Said In Brexit Statement

21 September 2018, 15:13 | Updated: 28 October 2019, 15:53

Theresa May made a dramatic Downing Street statement on Friday afternoon following the rejection of her Brexit plan in Salzburg. This is what she said.

The Prime Minister said: "I have always said that these negotiations would be tough, and they were always bound to be toughest in the final straight.

"While both sides want a deal, we have to face up to the fact that despite the progress we have made there are two big issues where we remain a long way apart."

Theresa May's Downing Street statement
Theresa May's Downing Street statement. Picture: Getty

1) Issue one: customs arrangements

The first problem is Britain's economic relationship with the EU after we leave. Mrs May explained: "Here the EU is still only offering us two options. The first option would involve the UK staying in the European Economic Area and a customs union with the EU.

"In plain English, this would mean we'd still have to abide by the all EU rules: uncontrolled immigration from the EU would continue and we couldn't do trade deals we want with other countries.

"That would make a mockery of the referendum we had two years ago."

2) Issue two: Northern Ireland border

On the second issue, she said: "We both agree that the Withdrawal Agreement needs to include a backstop to ensure that if there's a delay in implementing our new relationship, there still won't be a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland," she said.

"But 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."

3) Negotiations at an impasse

"Yesterday, Donald Tusk said our proposals would undermine the single market. He didn't explain how in any detail or make any counter-proposal. So we are at an impasse."

"At this stage in the negotiations 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, until we do we cannot make progress."

Theresa May speaks at Downing Street
Theresa May speaks at Downing Street. Picture: PA

4) A promise to EU citizens

The Prime Minister also offered a reassurance to EU citizens living in the UK that they could stay here, even in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

She said: "There are over three 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."

5) We are DEFINITELY leaving the EU

In a defiant final message, Mrs May said: "The EU should be clear: I will not overturn the result of the referendum. Nor will I break up my country.

"We need serious engagement on resolving the two big problems in the negotiations. We stand ready."