EU leaders tell Theresa May Brexit deal will not be re-opened despite Commons vote

Posted On: 
29th January 2019

European Union chiefs have insisted that the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement will not be re-opened, despite Theresa May demanding it be radically changed.

A spokesman for Donald Tusk said the Withdrawal Agreement would not be re-opened.
PA Images

The Prime Minister has said she will seek major changes to the Irish backstop plan after MPs backed calls for it to be replaced by "alternative arrangements".

Mrs May told the Commons: "We will now take this mandate forward and seek to make legally-binding changes to the Withdrawal Agreement which deal with concerns on the backstop while guaranteeing no return to a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland and my colleagues and I will talk to the EU about how we address the House’s views."

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But within minutes of the vote by MPs, a spokesman for EU Council president Donald Tusk made clear that they had no intention of re-opening the Withdrawal Agreement, which Mrs May agreed with Brussels following two years of negotiations.

The spokesman said: "The Withdrawal Agreement is and remains the best and only way to ensure an orderly withdrawal of the UK from the EU.

"The backstop is part of the Withdrawal Agreement, and the Withdrawal Agreement is not open for re-negotiation.

"If the UK's intentions for the future partnership were to evolve, the EU would be prepared to reconsider its offer and adjust the content and the level of ambition of the political declaration, whilst respecting its established principles."

The spokesman said the EU was also willing to consider any "reasoned request" by the UK to delay Brexit by extending the Article 50 process, something Mrs May has ruled out.

Responding to the EU statement, a spokesman for the Prime Minister said: "The EU's position remains that they want the United Kingdom to leave with a deal because it's in their best interests as well as those of the UK.

"Parliament previously sent a very clear message that they were not prepared to vote for the deal as it stood, tonight Parliament has sent a clear message that there is a way forward to secure this deal if we are able to secure changes to the backstop."