Donald Tusk’s Instagram post that pushed May’s buttons


“The mood at Number 10 will be bleak,” David Cameron’s spin doctor wrote last night.

“The chances of: no deal; a General Election; Corbyn in No 10; a second referendum, all went up after Tusk’s comments,” Craig Oliver tweeted.

The contents of Donald Tusk’s Instagram account clearly did not help – as was highlighted by Theresa May’s stern Friday speech in which she demanded the same kind of respect from the EU as she said the UK has provided throughout the Brexit process.

“A piece of cake perhaps? Sorry no cherries,” the president of the European Council wrote, complete with a picture of him offering Mrs May a tray of Austrian delights in Salzburg on Thursday.

It was blunt and unkind but neatly summed up a key blockage in the Brexit talks.

The EU still believes the UK is trying choose the best aspects of EU membership and ditch those bits it does not like.

Theresa May  Donald Tusk’s Instagram post that pushed May’s buttons skynews theresa may brexit statment 4428789


PM: ‘We expect respect from EU’

Chequers demands a single market for goods and agriculture but not for services and movement of people.

To allow that, the EU says, would completely undermine the principles of the club.

It was not a good day for the British side in these negotiations – no question there.

But was it really an “ambush” as some on the UK side are claiming?

Did anything actually change? Did any positions shift? No.

It was much more a mismanagement of expectations on the British side and some ill-advised “over spin” that things would go well.

While the UK side did not expect the EU to shift their position at Salzburg, they did expect some helpful language to come from the EU leaders; language which would give Mrs May cover for the bumpy weeks ahead.

They chose not to, but listen carefully to what they said and, as one EU source put it to me: “It’s difficult to see where this surprise is coming from.”

Theresa May  Donald Tusk’s Instagram post that pushed May’s buttons skynews theresa may brexit statmemnt 4428763
Theresa May gave a stern speech at Downing Street the day after Salzburg

They repeated again and again what their Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, has been saying for months and months: you cannot cherry pick, you cannot undermine our principles, non-membership cannot be as good as membership.

There was a hope on the British side that their consistent attempts to go around Mr Barnier with sideline talks with key EU countries.

It has not worked. Indeed I am told that there has been increasing irritancy across the EU at these attempts.

Neither side is budging. They’re doubling down. One side is underestimating the other. But which?

The EU is good at compromise and fudges and those will probably be found here. But it’s a dangerous game.

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