Brexit was sold by 'liars': European Union leaders reject May's plan

The prime minister's personal plea for the 27 heads of government to back her Chequers proposals was greeted with a resounding "no" at a summit in Salzburg, Austria.

The judgment of British newspapers on Friday was brutal.

Former cabinet minister Stephen Crabb added that European Union leaders had sought to "belittle" Mrs May and said behaviour of that kind pushed Remainers like himself towards wanting to leave the bloc as soon as possible.

When asked whether a bad deal was better than no deal Macron declined to say, but said he would "never accept a deal which will damage Europe".

Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, said key aspects of Brexit proposals presented by May "will not work" in their current form.

European Union officials have been cool on the plan from the start, saying Britain can't "cherry-pick" elements of membership in the bloc without accepting all the costs and responsibilities.

The firm line from Downing Street, and one repeated by May at dinner last night, has been that the Chequers plan and the UK's own proposal for an Irish backstop already represent big compromises, and that it is now time for Brussels to shift position.

That gives May just four weeks to come up with a new plan.

"What we are proposing is a fair arrangement that will work for the EU's economy as well as for the UK's without undermining the single market", May told them. Failing to do so could disrupt the lives of people and business on both sides, and undermine Northern Ireland's hard-won peace.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte labelled the Brexit negotiations "a balancing act" and the leaders will have further opportunities to thrash an agreement out when they meet again in Brussels on October 18 and again in mid-November.

But EU leaders clearly were not feeling nostalgic. "There is a lot of common ground on the basis of [the United Kingdom plan], especially in the area of domestic security and also foreign cooperation and other issues, but there is still a lot of work to do on the question of how future trade relations will look".

The UK and European Union are trying to reach a deal by mid-November and want to avoid a hard border - physical infrastructure like cameras or guard posts - between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic but can not agree on how.

The news caused anger as there had been lingering hopes that summit would see the Withdrawal Agreement to all intents and purposes settled.

Mrs May now faces calls to abandon the Chequers plan completely from many within her own party who were unhappy with it in the first place.

Pro-EU politicians don't like the Chequers plan either, saying it will cut the U.K.'s vast services sector out of the single market.

But having flatly rejected the EU's thinking, Mrs May is then said to have delivered a hard message in a meeting with Irish PM Leo Varadkar yesterday morning.

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