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Theresa May says Britain must prepare for a ‘no deal’ Brexit

In a surprise statement from Downing Street following the EU's rejection of her Chequers Brexit proposal, Theresa May said she would never break up her country

Prime Minister Theresa May has said that Britain must ready itself for a possible ‘no deal’ Brexit, claiming negotiations with the EU are now at an “impasse” following her Chequers deal being rejected by EU leaders in Salzburg earlier this week.

In a statement broadcast from Downing Street, May said her Chequers proposal is the only credible way the UK can leave the EU, and called on EU leaders to treat Britain with respect during the Brexit negotiations. This week, European Council President Donald Tusk called May’s plan for Brexit “unworkable”.

But in a fiery rebuke today, May stood resolute in her plans to take Britain out of the EU.

“I have worked day and night to deliver a deal that sees the UK leave the EU,” she said. “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. We need serious engagement in resolving the two big problems in the negotiations and we stand ready.”

May stated the EU’s two proposed options for Brexit will not work. The first proposal is for the UK to remain in the single market, which she said would make a “mockery” of the referendum result. The second option is a free trade agreement for Britain, with Northern Island staying in the customs union, cut off from the UK. She said this customs border is something “she will never agree too”.

She said: “Throughout this process, I have treated the EU with nothing but respect. The UK expects the same. A good relationship at the end of this process depends on it.

“I have always said that these negotiations would be tough, and they were always bound to be toughest in the final straight. Both sides want a deal, but 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.”

The announcement comes amidst mounting calls for a second referendum, from both Conservative backers and from Labour, with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan revealing his support for a second vote earlier this month. Writing in The Observer, he said: With time rapidly running out, we are left with two possibilities – a bad deal, which could end up being so vague that we leave the EU blind to what our future relationship will be, or a “no-deal” Brexit.

But May was today clear in her direction, calling the referendum the largest democratic exercise Britain has ever undergone.

“To deny its legitimacy or frustrate its result threatens public trust in our democracy,” she said.