Published: Sun, December 16, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Brexit: May rebuffed by European Union leaders in Brussels

Brexit: May rebuffed by European Union leaders in Brussels

May pulled a vote on her deal this week after acknowledging it would be heavily defeated over concerns about the divorce agreement's "backstop", an insurance policy created to avoid any hard land border for Ireland but which critics say could bind Britain to European Union rules indefinitely. Most Conservative lawmakers who don't have government positions voted against her during this past week's no-confidence vote.

After listening to a presentation from the prime minister about MPs" concerns which had prevented her getting her Brexit deal through Parliament this week, the EU27 leaders tore up a draft communique prepared by officials which would have offered Mrs May "further assurances'.

"So I think that the logical thing is to go back to the people and say - you're going to have to give us direction because parliament can't agree on one form of Brexit and it's clear that as a result of this negotiation our knowledge of what Brexit really means has been vastly enlarged".

"But my discussions with colleagues today have shown that further clarification and discussion following the council's conclusions is in fact possible".

But the European Union leaders rebuffed British pressure to put a fixed end date on the border guarantee, and refused to re-negotiate the 585-page legal text settling issues of the divorce.

In a recent Fox News interview, Pompeo promised to pursue the vaunted US-Britain "special relationship" in the increasingly likely scenario of a "hard Brexit" without a negotiated deal.

"We need to acknowledge the risk that parliament could spend the next precious few months debating about preferred solutions and end up with no compromise, no agreement and no deal".

"Our UK friends need to say what they want, instead of asking us to say what we want", he said.

On the video of the Prime Minister confronting him, he added: "We were not dancing".

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'So we would like, within a few weeks, our United Kingdom friends to set out their expectations for us because this debate is sometimes nebulous and imprecise and I would like clarifications'.

At a summit in Brussels, May's attempts to get legal assurances from the European Union that the Irish backstop would only be a temporary measure was rebuffed with the bloc's other 27 leaders saying they would not renegotiate the treaty.

He added: "We have to bring down the temperature".

While the leaders may give more (non-binding) political assurances, they have insisted they cannot re-open the terms of the agreement.

Downing Street is already expecting both Labour and hardline Tory Brexiters to engineer ways to inflict further damage on the prime minister before parliament breaks up for Christmas.

Mrs May managed a smile at her press conference when a reporter asked if she had had a "trying week", jokingly replying: "Has something happened this week?"

May's senior ministers are also deeply divided over what to do if her plan fails.

Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn has described the deal as "dead in the water" and said Mrs May "utterly failed in her attempts to deliver any meaningful changes".

Mr Johnson, who resigned as transport minister in protest at Mrs May's European Union withdrawal agenda, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The time has come for us to hold this vote".

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