News

May gets cool reception in Europe as she tries to save Brexit deal

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Print this page Email A Friend!


BRUSSELS, Belgium (AFP) — Embattled British Prime Minister Theresa May met sympathy but a firm rebuff on a lightning tour of European capitals yesterday, with EU leaders ruling out any renegotiation of the Brexit deal.

A day after she postponed a crucial vote on the accord in the British Parliament, May said she was urging EU counterparts to give a “reassurance” that a measure designed to avoid a hard Irish border would only ever be temporary.

After a “long and frank discussion” with May the president of the European Council, a frustrated Donald Tusk, said he did not know what more they could do.

In a tweet, he said it was clear that European leaders wanted to help, but added: “The question is how.”

In The Hague, Berlin and Brussels, May was told that, while some clarification about how the agreement will be interpreted is possible, the accord itself must stand.

After her talks with May, Merkel told lawmakers of her CDU/CSU bloc that she saw “no way to change” the agreement, according to sources at the party meeting.

May faces criticism in parliament over the so-called Northern Ireland “backstop” and hopes reassurances that it will not be invoked will persuade her rebellious Conservative party to support it.

“Whatever outcome you want, whatever relationship you want with Europe in the future, there's no deal available that doesn't have a backstop within it,” May told the BBC.

“But we don't want the backstop to be used and if it is, we want to be certain that it is temporary, and it's those assurances that I'll be seeking from fellow leaders over the coming days.”

In Brussels, May also met European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker for just over an hour, but neither made public statements and the EU leader's office said they would not react until Wednesday's regular press briefing.

Juncker said ahead of the meeting that he was “surprised” at being asked for more talks since EU leaders had given their approval to the deal at an extraordinary summit on November 25.

“The deal we have achieved is the best deal possible, it's the only deal possible,” he told the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

“There is no room whatsoever for renegotiation but of course there is room, if used intelligently, to give further clarification and further interpretations.”

MPs in the House of Commons were due to vote on the deal last night, but May deferred it on Monday, admitting she expected to lose by a “significant margin”.

Her spokesman said yesterday the vote would be rescheduled before January 21, with Britain due to leave the EU on March 29.

Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is now facing calls to table a no-confidence vote in the prime minister, but is holding off as the party believes May is likely to win.

Eurosceptic MPs in May's Conservative party have also repeated calls for her to be replaced, with one warning it was time to “govern or quit”.

Tusk has called a special meeting of the other 27 EU leaders for tomorrow to discuss the latest developments.

They were due to meet tomorrow and Friday at a regular summit where May was expected to put her case.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said his government ruled out changes to the wording of the withdrawal agreement, but said there could be “a political declaration coming from a European Council”.

“The Irish Government doesn't have an issue with providing reassurance if that's helpful,” he told national broadcaster RTE.

May is to visit Dublin today to meet Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.

The backstop provision is designed to prevent a hard border reappearing between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

But critics say it risks tying Britain into a customs union with the EU for years after it leaves the bloc — far from the clean break that eurosceptics want.

One of May's ministers, Martin Callanan, said in Brussels yesterday that Britain was seeking “additional legal reassurances that the UK cannot be permanently trapped in the Irish backstop”.

Even if no deal is secured, Britain remains on course to leave the EU on March 29 — a scenario the Government has warned will be hugely damaging to the economy.

Tusk said Thursday's EU meeting would cover no-deal plans, while May's Cabinet was also due to discuss the issue on Wednesday.

France's minister for European affairs, Nathalie Loiseau, said the possibility of no deal was “not unlikely”, adding: “I'm very worried.”


Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive


ADVERTISEMENT




POST A COMMENT

HOUSE RULES

1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy



comments powered by Disqus
ADVERTISEMENT

Poll

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon
ADVERTISEMENT