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No renegotiation on Brexit deal: Barnier

No renegotiation on Brexit deal:  Barnier
Michel Barnier (File)
London, Jan 30 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 1/30/2019 12:33:04 PM IST

The EU is “united” over the negotiated Brexit deal, the bloc’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier says, after the UK PM said she wants to reopen it.

Theresa May is expected to continue talks with the EU after MPs backed a plan to renegotiate her Brexit deal.

MPs voted 317 to 301 in favour of changing the backstop plan - the bit of the deal designed to avoid the return of Northern Ireland border checks.

But Mr Barnier said the EU stood by the existing withdrawal agreement.

“The EU institutions remain united and we stand by the agreement we have negotiated with the UK,” he said.

Meanwhile, employers’ group the CBI said businesses were likely to accelerate their plans for a no-deal Brexit.

Carolyn Fairbairn, head of the CBI, said: “I don’t think there will be a single business this morning who is stopping or halting their no-deal planning as a result of what happened yesterday.

“The amendment feels like a real throw of the dice.”

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said Mrs May had won a little more time and momentum with the vote, but it was now the “end political game” and a “high stakes” moment for EU leaders.

The prime minister is due to meet Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn later for talks, after MPs backed an amendment rejecting the idea of a no-deal Brexit.

He had previously refused to meet Mrs May unless she ruled out a no-deal Brexit herself.

At the moment, the UK is due to leave the European Union at 23:00 GMT on 29 March, with or without a deal.

The UK and the EU negotiated their withdrawal agreement deal over the past 18 months but it needs to be backed by MPs for it to come into force. Earlier this month MPs voted against the plan Mrs May had proposed by 432 votes to 202.

Mrs May said that, after taking Tuesday’s votes into account and talking to the EU, any revised deal would be brought back to the Commons “as soon as possible” for a second “meaningful vote”.

However, various EU leaders have suggested there will be no revisions to the deal, with European Council President Donald Tusk saying: “The backstop is part of the withdrawal agreement, and the withdrawal agreement is not open for renegotiation.”

French President Emmanuel Macron also said the agreement was “not renegotiable”, while Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said the backstop arrangement remained “necessary” despite the vote.


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