Theresa May accused of making UK a laughing stock in Europe

The UK has become an “ogre” that is “a laughing stock” across , a senior Labour politician has said, accusing Theresa May of risking the country’s prospects of a Brexit deal by using threatening language.

“She says no deal is better than a bad deal, but no deal is a bad deal,” the shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“Saying you’re going to be a bloody difficult woman right at the start of the negotiations tends to make sure you do get a bad deal rather than working with partners across Europe. Theresa May has made us look like ogres across Europe. We’re a laughing stock.”

During the Sky News and Channel 4 debate, the prime minister insisted she had got her way in previous negotiations with the EU and repeatedly stressed her belief that “no deal is better than a bad deal”. That meant being prepared to walk away; she would not accept a “deal at any price”.

In a speech later on Tuesday, May will claim that “economic prosperity will suffer, jobs and livelihoods will be put at risk, and with them the security and peace of mind of working families” if the government fails to secure a successful Brexit deal with the EU.

May’s focus on Brexit in election campaigning comes after her U-turn on the Conservatives’ social care pledge and a tightening in the polls in the race for Downing Street.

Speaking later on Today, the Brexit secretary, David Davis, said Rayner was “incredibly naive” about how the negotiations would be conducted.

“We are going to have to be quite tough with them, I’m afraid,” he said, referring to the infamous briefing of the Downing Street dinner with the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, that was leaked to a German newspaper.

“For 48 hours she said, we don’t recognise this, the politest possible diplomatic language saying ‘this is not the case’. Then we got this demand for £100bn and at that point she drew the line. We didn’t escalate the fight, but at one point we drew the line – that’s what she’s good at.”


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