The Latest: EU chief says no room to renegotiate Brexit
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The Latest on the Brexit negotiations (all times local):
British Prime Minister Theresa May has arrived at European Union headquarters for talks with Council President Donald Tusk, as part of a bid to win backing from EU leaders so she can sell her Brexit deal to the U.K. Parliament.
May, who’s on the third stop of a whirlwind diplomatic tour that already saw her in the Netherlands and Germany, desperately needs political help to sway her domestic audience. She postponed a key Parliament vote on the Brexit deal at the last minute Monday, admitting she would almost certainly be voted down.
The EU again stressed on Tuesday that it will not renegotiate the withdrawal agreement that will see Britain exit the EU on March 29. But it might agree on some added political language supporting May’s case.
British Prime Minister Theresa May is meeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel for talks aimed at salvaging Britain’s divorce deal with the European Union.
Merkel greeted May with a handshake in wet, gray weather at the chancellery in Berlin Tuesday as the British leader made her second stop on a tour of European capitals aimed at securing “assurances” on the agreement to aid its passage through Britain’s parliament.
Merkel and May made no comment as they went into their meeting, and no statements or news conference were planned afterward. May, who started her tour in The Hague earlier Tuesday, was due in Brussels later in the day.
May postponed a Parliament vote on the Brexit deal at the last minute Monday, acknowledging she faced almost certain defeat. German officials, like their counterparts in other EU countries, say there will be no renegotiation of the hard-won deal.
British Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman says the government intends to hold a postponed vote in Parliament on her Brexit deal by Jan. 21.
James Slack says the government will bring the divorce deal back to lawmakers once May has obtained “reassurances” from the European Union about a provision on common customs rules that had drawn widespread resistance from parliamentarians.
He said that would be before Jan. 21, previously seen as a deadline for the government to inform Parliament of its Brexit plan.
May delayed the vote, planned for Tuesday, at the last minute, acknowledging the deal would be rejected “by a significant margin” in Parliament. She is meeting EU leaders to seek new wording on the main sticking point, the so-called “backstop,” that could reassure Parliament.
The “backstop” is designed as an insurance policy to ensure an open border between the U.K.’s Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland. But many lawmakers worry that Britain might be stuck in it indefinitely.
A British Brexit minister says that Prime Minister Theresa May is seeking European Union guarantees that the U.K. will not become a prisoner of parts of the agreement.
British lawmakers fear that Britain will be bound by the so-called backstop, a safeguard meant to ensure that goods flow freely between the U.K.’s Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland after Brexit.
Martin Callanan, Minister of State at the Department for Exiting the EU, told reporters Tuesday that May wants assurance “that the U.K. cannot be trapped permanently in the backstop.”
Callanan says “it is very important that these have to be additional legally binding reassurances.”
While EU leaders say the deal cannot be renegotiated, Callanan insisted that “it is a negotiation. It is always going to be a difficult and complex negotiation.”
A senior German official says British Prime Minister Theresa May won’t get any pledge of new negotiations on the Brexit deal when she visits Chancellor Angela Merkel. And he is stressing that the chief negotiators are in Brussels, not Berlin.
May is visiting several European countries to seek “assurances” on the divorce agreement with the European Union to aid its passage through Britain’s parliament.
Asked as he arrived at a meeting in Brussels what May can expect from Merkel on Tuesday, Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Roth replied: “I hope they will wish each other Merry Christmas, strength and all the best for the new year. It’s good to speak to each other, but there will certainly be no promises of any kind that we will reopen matters now and renegotiate.”
Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen says European Union countries might be willing to clarify parts of their divorce deal with Britain but would not be prepared to make wholesale changes.
Embattled British Prime Minister Theresa May is visiting European capitals to lobby for changes to the Brexit deal after she canceled a vote in the U.K. Parliament over concerns her plan would be rejected.
Samuelsen told reporters in Brussels Tuesday that “it is always a political option to clarify if that is needed, what is meant, what kind of underlining is needed.”
But he stressed that “it’s not a question, I guess, of renegotiating everything.”
He declined to comment on whether the EU would be prepared to draft an additional political declaration to help pass the agreement in London.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is ruling out any renegotiation of the divorce agreement with Britain but says elements of the Brexit deal could still be clarified.
Briefing EU lawmakers in Strasbourg, France, on this week’s leader’s summit, Juncker said Tuesday that “there is no room whatsoever for renegotiation” of the divorce deal.
But he added that “if used intelligently, (there) is room enough to give further clarification and further interpretations without opening the withdrawal agreement.”
Juncker, who is set to meet British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday evening, underlined that “the deal we have achieved is the best deal possible. It is the only deal possible.”
British Prime Minister Theresa May is launching her fight to save her Brexit deal over breakfast with her Dutch counterpart, the first of a string of meeting with European leaders in coming days.
May arrived early Tuesday at Rutte’s official residence in The Hague and was travelling later in the day to Berlin and Brussels.
Her whistle-stop tour came on the day that British lawmakers had been scheduled to vote on Brexit.
Instead, May went to the House of Commons on Monday and conceded that the divorce deal she struck last month with EU leaders was likely to be rejected “by a significant margin” and postponed the vote.
May said she would seek “assurances” from the EU and bring the deal back to Parliament.
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