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`Unprofessional' May alienated European leaders with summit dinner speech

Summit conclusions rewritten to remove backstop observations

Theresa May's attempt to rescue her Brexit deal ran into serious trouble in Brussels on Thursday night, after despairing EU leaders accused her of having no viable proposals to sell her plan to a hostile British parliament.

The British prime minister, already wounded after more than a third of her MPs voted to oust her in a confidence vote, arrived at a European Council meeting to a warm reception from EU leaders who want to salvage the Brexit deal.

But during an hour-long presentation, Mrs May succeeded in alienating many fellow leaders after making a series of ambitious proposals to appease her domestic critics, including a one-year time limit on the Irish backstop.

After Mrs May left the room, many leaders were despondent. During more than two hours of talks over dinner, EU leaders agreed to scrap plans for a formal process to provide reassurances to Britain until Mrs May decided what she wants.

"This debate is sometimes nebulous and imprecise," said Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission president. "When it comes to the future relationship, our British friends need to say what they want, rather than asking us what we want."

A video of Mr Juncker and Mrs May later emerged appearing to show a tense confrontation during the summit on Thursday.

Michel Barnier, EU chief Brexit negotiator, claimed that Mrs May was not seeking reassurances but was reviving old ideas rejected during Brexit negotiations. One EU diplomat briefed on the talks said Mrs May was "unprofessional".

Another EU diplomat claimed that there was even a suggestion that it might have been better if Mrs May had been ejected from Downing Street in this week's abortive coup by Tory Eurosceptics.

"She didn't know what she wanted," the diplomat said.

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 17th, 2018 at 12:59:02 PM EST

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