'Bite his hand off': Brexiteers seize on Tusk intervention

By Alan McGuinness, political reporter
Donald Tusk has given fresh impetus to Conservative MPs who want Theresa May to ditch her Brexit plan, a little more than 24 hours after the prime minister again called for "respect" from Brussels.
The European Council president also strongly criticised Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, branding his recent comparison of the EU to the Soviet Union "unwise as it is insulting", noting he had "spent half his life in the Soviet bloc".And he suggested the Conservative Party conference, which was dominated by tensions over Brexit, had served to delay the progress of the exit talks.Speaking after holding talks with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar in Brussels, Mr Tusk said: "The EU wants a relationship with the UK that is as close and special as possible.

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"From the very beginning, the EU offer has been not just a Canada deal, but a Canada+++ deal."Much further-reaching on trade, on internal security and on foreign policy cooperation."This is a true measure of respect. And this offer remains in place."His intervention is significant because Tories opposed to Chequers - Mrs May's plan for Brexit that would see Britain sign up to EU rules and regulations for goods (a "common rulebook") - say she should instead go for a deal similar to the one Brussels agreed with Canada.
'Come together or risk no Brexit at all'
This is the view of Boris Johnson, who has been leading calls for Mrs May to change course and delivered a high-profile speech on the fringes of the Tory conference in Birmingham in which he called Chequers an "outrage".Canada's free trade deal with the EU allows it to access the European market on improved terms while not being a member, so it does not have to contribute to the EU budget, follow European Court of Justice laws or adopt freedom of movement.Nearly all tariffs on imports and exports have been eliminated, while there are more opportunities for companies to do business and workers to move between the territories.Brexiteers argue such a deal would give the UK greater scope to diverge from EU rules and that additional friction at borders could be minimised through trusted trader schemes, product bar coding and other non-border checks.Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg welcomed Mr Tusk's intervention, saying a Canada-style deal was a "good solution for everyone", while former UKIP leader Nigel Farage said: "Please Mrs May, bite his hand off."
This is a good solution for everyone and the ERG's proposals for the Irish border mean it could work for the UK as a whole.— Jacob Rees-Mogg (@Jacob_Rees_Mogg) October 4, 2018
Please Mrs May, bite his hand off.— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) October 4, 2018
But Mrs May is opposed to such a deal because she argues it would require a customs border in the Irish Sea and lead to the breakup of the UK because Northern Ireland would have to be treated differently to the rest of the UK.Downing Street has yet to respond to Mr Tusk's latest remarks, although they are likely to be viewed as unhelpful in the wake of the PM's call for unity at the Tory conference.She said those who want to deliver Brexit "need to come together now", and warned: "If we don't - if we all go off in different directions in pursuit of our own visions of the perfect Brexit - we risk ending up with no Brexit at all."
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