UPDATE: Dutch PM says Brexit deal 'not up for renegotiation'

Friday, May 24, 2019

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THE HAGUE,Netherlands(AFP) — Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Friday that the EU would never reopen negotiations on the Brexit divorce deal with whoever succeeds Theresa May as British premier.

"The withdrawal agreement is not up for renegotiation," Rutte told a news conference in The Hague hours after May announced her resignation having failed three times to get parliament to pass the deal.

Rutte said uncertainty over Brexit had now "increased rather than decreased" but insisted that the Netherlands remains prepared for any situation "including a no-deal scenario".

Rutte's line is the hardest yet by an EU leader, and will come as a blow to the frontrunners to replace May who have said they would try to reopen talks on the agreement on Britain's departure from the European Union.

The Dutch premier said "the problem was not Theresa May" but that she was "bogged down in that Brexit swamp", especially Britain's strict red lines on issues such as the Irish border.

"I phoned her at once this morning, I told herthat I thought what she did in the past years was brave and that she worked under incredibly difficult circumstances to deliver a Brexit," he said.

Rutte would not be drawn on the likely replacements for May.

"I am not going to comment on Boris Johnson or any of the other candidates — we have to await the outcome and at the end of the day you have to work with everyone," he said.

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