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'Further Down Cherry-Picking Road': Former Deputy PM Slams May's Brexit Speech

© REUTERS / Francois Lenoir / Flags are arranged at the EU headquarters as Britain and the EU launch Brexit talks in Brussels, June 19, 2017
Flags are arranged at the EU headquarters as Britain and the EU launch Brexit talks in Brussels, June 19, 2017 - Sputnik International
It is the British Parliament which must urgently address the disputed issue of Northern Ireland's border, which became a stumbling block during the ongoing Brexit talks, according to former UK Deputy Prime Minister Michael Heseltine.

Former UK Deputy Prime Minister Michael Heseltine has slammed Friday's keynote speech, delivered by the country's current Cabinet head Theresa May as something that contained "phrases, generalizations and platitudes" that he warned would not add to clinching the Brexit deal.

The Observer quoted Heseltine as saying that "the [May] speech just moves us further down the cherry-picking road."

"It set out the cherries that Britain wants to pick but that approach completely ignores the fact that the EU has said, 'sorry there is no cherry picking'," he pointed out.

CC BY-SA 3.0 / / Michael Heseltine
Michael Heseltine - Sputnik International
Michael Heseltine

Heseltine stressed that 18 months after the referendum on Brexit, "no one has got any answer" about how to get any closer with a whole array of sensitive issues pertaining to Britain's withdrawal from the EU, including the Irish border.

READ MORE: Former British PM John Major Mounts Explosive Attack on Brexit

According to him, this issue should be put on the UK Parliament's table as soon as possible.

"We have turned ourselves from the fastest growing to the slowest growing economy in Europe and we have made a complete Horlicks of the Irish border. I am totally with the view of [former UK Prime Ministers] Tony Blair and John Major that this matter has got to go back to Parliament and possibly to a referendum or a general election," Heseltine emphasized.

In her Brexit speech on February 2, May made it plain that there would be no return to a hard border in Northern Ireland.

Commenting on the possibility of the failure to reach an agreement during the ongoing EU-UK negotiations, she said that "no deal is still better than a bad deal in the Brexit talks."

READ MORE: Irish Border Issue Could Complicate Brexit Negotiations — Analyst

At the same time, May reiterated her commitment to clinch an agreement with the EU, citing "real progress" in the negotiating process.

A motorist crosses over the border from the Irish Republic into Northern Ireland near the town of Jonesborough, Northern Ireland, Monday, Jan. 30, 2017 - Sputnik International
EU Brexit Draft Text Made DUP 'More Isolated' in Irish Border Debate - Sinn Fein
On June 23, 2016, the United Kingdom voted in a referendum to leave the European Union.

Brexit negotiations between London and Brussels kicked off on June 19, 2017 and are due to wrap up by the end of March 2019.

The talks' first phase focused on the protection of EU citizens' rights in the UK, the British-Irish border and London's financial obligations to Brussels after the withdrawal.

The second stage began in December 2017 and focuses on the transition period in EU-UK ties after Brexit and future trade and security collaboration between the two sides.

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