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Dangerous game of no-deal chicken could spell end for PM

By Faisal Islam, political editor
A prime minister left isolated in a place and at a moment where she badly needed some friends.
At the very least, here in Salzburg, Theresa May needed a helping hand from fellow EU leaders as she enters some treacherous domestic political waters.And yet, having talked up confidence in a deal and a compromise, the UK's ally in brokering one - European Council president Donald Tusk - emerged from private talks of EU27 leaders and applied what appeared a fatal blow to her Chequers plan."We all agreed Chequers proposals for economic co-operation will not work, not least because it will undermine the single market," Mr Tusk said of her plans for a common rulebook and facilitated customs arrangement to allow frictionless post-Brexit trade and new free trade deals.At precisely the same moment in a neighbouring room, with "no-deal" risks rising, the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte made this extraordinary assessment about UK preparedness."I think we have made more preparations for no-deal than the UK," he said, responding to questions about the preparedness of his country's airports after Wednesday's leak to Sky News.
Dangerous game of no-deal chicken could spell end for PM

0:22
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Brexit: Chequers proposal explained
Aides scrambled to lower the temperature of the sweltering summit by urgently procuring a giant Dyson cooling machine for Mrs May's news conference. A Brexit fan.Mr Tusk and the prime minister had just had a robust conversation. He'd held back on firmly announcing a special EU summit in November to finalise a Brexit deal.A rattled Mrs May announced her meeting with Mr Tusk had been "frank", before not quite being able to explain how the European Council president hadn't removed the plug from the Chequers life support machine.Her aides say these were the words of a defiant Mrs May - denying Sky News' suggestion this was "falling apart"."Look, I've always said that these negotiations are going to be tough and at various stages of these negotiations different tactics would be used as part of those negotiations," the prime minister said."The proposal we have put forward is the only proposal on the table that actually delivers on that long-term sustainable future by offering the free and frictionless movement of goods across borders… so if there are concerns from the EU, let's hear what those concerns are, sit down and look at those concerns."But what we need to ensure that at the end of the day the deal that comes out of this, is one that delivers for the British people."
Dangerous game of no-deal chicken could spell end for PM

10:48
Video:
Full news conference: Theresa May sweats it out
It certainly sparked memories of Mrs May's famous election claim that "nothing has changed" - but something here has.
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