European leaders moved yesterday to head off British Prime Minister Theresa May’s bid to rewrite the Brexit divorce deal, warning they will not budge.
In Brussels, ahead of a keenly anticipated speech by EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, frustrated officials including Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier insisted the remaining 27 EU members were united. A spokesman for EU Council President Donald Tusk swiftly insisted the Brexit deal was “not open for renegotiation”.
Having thrown out the exit deal May negotiated with the European Union, divided British lawmakers voted Tuesday to send her back to get an Irish border “backstop” clause removed.
May seized on this as a chance to prevent Britain crashing out of the European Union on March 29 without an agreement on the terms of the split, vowing to return to Brussels to demand changes to the text.
But even she admits she faces a formidable challenge convincing Brussels to re-open an accord that took 18 excruciating months to conclude, and European leaders are so far united in dismissing any such manoeuvre.
“It’s an extraordinary situation when a prime minister and a government negotiates a deal and then goes back and during the ratification process votes against their own deal,” Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney told RTE radio. “That’s like saying in a negotiation, ‘Well either you give me what I want or I’m jumping out of the window’.”