Europe Insists Brexit Deal Won’t Be Renegotiated As May Hopes To ‘Run Out The Clock’
The apprehension that gripped cable on Monday has faded, sparking a modest recovery in the pound on Tuesday as Theresa May embarks on her “dash to Brussels” – a whirlwind tour of European capitals where the prime minister is expected to meet with a bevy of bureaucrats and elected leaders to try and win assurances that – at the very least – the Brexit withdrawal agreement could be modified to include “assurances” that entering into the controversial “Irish backstop” would require approval from Parliament.
But – so far, at least – European leaders are standing firm regarding their insistence that the deal on the table is the ‘best possible deal’ and won’t be open to renegotiation.
According to the Telegraph, Jean-Claude Juncker assured MEPs in Strasbourg that the ‘finalized’ deal currently on the table is “the only deal possible” and ruled out making changes – though he added that there would be room for “further clarifications” and “further interpretations” of the deal (though many believe this wouldn’t be enough to win over EU votes).
BREAKING:@JunckerEU tells @Europarl_EN "withdrawal agreement will not be re-opened.” He said the backstop “necessary for the entire coherence of the agreement and it is necessary for Ireland. Ireland will never be left alone.” #Brexit pic.twitter.com/757qMqqNPS
— Conor McMorrow (@ConorMcMorrow) December 11, 2018
Here’s more from the Telegraph:
MEPs applauded as Mr Juncker said: “There is no room whatsoever for renegotiation, but of course there is room if used intelligently, there is room enough to give further clarifications and further interpretations without opening the Withdrawal Agreement.”
“This will not happen: everyone has to note that the Withdrawal Agreement will not be reopened.”
The offer of “further clarifications” on the backstop issue is unlikely to be enough to win over sceptical Brexiteer MPs who want the Irish border protocol removed from the Withdrawal Agreement.
Mr Juncker said the Irish backstop was the “big problem” and explained: “We have a common determination to do everything to be not in the situation one day to use that backstop.”
“But we have to prepare: it’s necessary for the entire coherence of what we have agreed with Britain and it is necessary for Ireland. Ireland will never be left alone.”
Meanwhile, May met with Dutch PM Mark Rutte in the Hague for talks that Rutte described as “useful”…
This morning I received PM @Theresa_May in The Hague for a breakfast meeting in preparation for the European Council later this week. A useful dialogue which saw us discuss the latest #Brexit developments. pic.twitter.com/jbmkpRK9L3
— Mark Rutte (@MinPres) December 11, 2018
… and is expected to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin and European Council President Donald Tusk in Brussels before heading back to London for a Wednesday cabinet meeting (notably, Paris isn’t on the list of European capitals that May is expected to visit).
Morning – PM is in The Hague for breakfast with Rutte, then Berlin with Merkel then meetings with Tusk and Juncker in Brussels this afternoon – trying to get meaningful concessions that no one really believes are possible to get https://t.co/aIw71Hbt2e
— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) December 11, 2018