The British Prime Minister says her Brexit strategy is the only option in play that can avoid a hard border in Ireland – without ‘carving up the UK.’
The so-called Chequers plan, agreed by the British Cabinet in July, has faced stiff opposition in both London and Brussels.
Some 80 Tory MPs have signalled that they would be willing to vote against the plan in the House of Commons – while chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier has warned that he is "strongly opposed" to key parts of it.
Speaking to BBC Panorama however, Mrs May said the plan is the only way to protect the union between Britain and the North while upholding the peace process in Ireland.
“The people of Northern Ireland deserve to be listened to in these negotiations by the UK Government just as people elsewhere in this country,” she said.
“I want to ensure that as we go forward, we have that strong union.
“Northern Ireland is part of the UK and it is important that we deliver for the people of Northern Ireland.
“They don’t want a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. The only proposal that has been put forward that delivers on them not having a hard border and ensures that we don’t carve up the UK is the Chequers plan.”
The Tánaiste Simon Coveney
Yesterday, the Tánaiste Simon Coveney once again warned that there will be no Brexit deal without a legally binding guarantee that there will be no return to a hard border.
He noted that "the EU and Ireland could not be any clearer: there will be no agreement without a backstop that guarantees no hard border and delivers on UK commitments" made in December and March.
Writing the Irish Independent he said “EU and UK negotiators are focused on the critical task at hand, which is agreeing a legally enforceable backstop for Northern Ireland that delivers on the UK commitments of last December and March and the guarantee of no physical infrastructure or related checks or controls.”
File photo of the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, 25-06-2018. Image: Victoria Jones/PA Wire/PA Images
Mrs May was speaking after the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan called for a second Brexit referendum to avoid a “hugely damaging” outcome.
Mr Khan said the British people should be given a second chance to decide once the outcome of negotiations becomes clearer.
Writing in The Observer newspaper Sadiq Khan said the UK now faced either a ‘vague bad deal’ or “no deal,” six months out from its official exit date.
He said he has become “increasingly alarmed as the chaotic approach to the negotiations has become mired in confusion and deadlock” and the country now face a “hugely damaging” outcome.
“The unfortunate reality is that Theresa May has failed to negotiate a Brexit position with her own party – let alone agree a deal with the EU,” he wrote.
“At every stage, her government has looked unprepared and out of its depth, resulting in a litany of wrong turns.
“And, not for the first time, it seems the debate has become more about Boris Johnson’s political ambitions than what’s good for the country.”
Mrs May has said that "giving in" to calls for a second referendum would be "a gross betrayal” of Britain’s democracy.