Boost for Brexiteers as Donald Tusk says 'Canada +++' is on offer for UK
Donald Tusk has raised hopes of a breakthrough in the Brexit negotiations by declaring that a so-called "Canada +++" deal is on the table.
In a major boost for Tory Brexiteers opposed to the Prime Minister's own Chequers plan, the EU Council's president said Brussels wanted to reach an agreement on "trade, internal security and foreign policy cooperation".
And in an apparent jibe at Theresa May, who has called on the EU to show her more "respect", he said the olive branch was "a true measure of respect".
However, critics pointed out that any Canada-style free trade deal would not solve the problem of maintaining an open border in Ireland - which Mr Tusk did not make any reference to in his tweet.
Under Mrs May's soft Brexit blueprint, the UK and EU would agree a common rule book on goods, which in theory could allow the border between the Republic and Northern Ireland to remain open.
But under a Canada deal, which is backed by the likes of Boris Johnson, David Davis and Jacob Rees-Mogg, the UK would not be in any form of customs union with Brussels, thereby leaving the Government free to reach trade agreements with other countries.
Unsurprisingly, Mr Tusk's comments were welcomed by those supporting a clean break with the EU, including the Tory backbench European Research Group.
John Longworth, founder of the Leave Means Leave campaign group, said: "The Canada model offers an enhanced free trade deal that would give the UK freedom to entirely self govern and trade with the entire world while retaining a close trading relationship with the EU with scope for strong cooperation in other areas. It is the right solution.
"It’s time the UK Government and the European Union were absolutely candid about what a Canada plus deal would look like. We ask that Barnier and May address this concern directly and fast."