UK Theresa May clinches new Brexit deal with the EU
‘It is this deal, or Brexit may not happen at all’ said European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.
United Kingdom’s (UK) prime minister Theresa May said she has struck a deal at the eleventh hour to revise the terms for Brexit before Parliament pull in their crucial votes on the deal on Tuesday.
Mrs May had flown to France for late talks with the European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday night and sat down for a two-hour long discussion before conducting a joint news conference to announce the changes.
The UK prime minister is in a race against time as Britain has just 17 days till its scheduled departure from the European Union (EU).
However, according to analysts, Mrs May did not get the power to unilaterally exit the highly rejected backstop arrangement aimed at preventing a hard Irish border. She was also unable to get a time limit placed on it.
The document however, did state that the UK or EU, would ‘ultimately’ have the right ‘to enact a unilateral, proportionate suspension of its obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement,’ including the backstop.
Mrs May had appealed to the Parliament, saying: ‘Now is the time to come together, to back this improved Brexit deal, and to deliver on the instruction of the British people.’
Mr Juncker added: ‘The choice is clear: it is this deal, or Brexit may not happen at all. Let’s bring the UK’s withdrawal to an orderly end. We owe it to history.’
Mixed reactions on “new deal”
Environment secretary Michael Gove said the “legally binding" declaration issued last night makes clear that the Irish border backstop plan is only meant to be a temporary arrangement.
The joint declaration, he adds, has "equal weight" to the withdrawal agreement already agreed. According to Mr Gove, it gives the UK "additional legal weight" to ensure it could leave the backstop if the EU decided to make it a permanent arrangement.
However, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn thinks the prime minister's negotiations have failed. ‘Last night's agreement with the European Commission does not contain anything approaching the changes Theresa May promised Parliament, and whipped her Members of Parliaments to vote for.’
Shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer thinks the withdrawal agreement and political declaration agreed with the EU in November remains ‘exactly the same’.
Crucial voting day
The last time Mrs May placed her deal in front of Parliament in January, she was brutally shot down in a historic loss as it was voted down by a margin of 230.
Mrs May is on a tight schedule before the slated Brexit date of March 29.
Lawmakers will take a vote on Mrs May’s Brexit deal on March 12, if the vote fails, Parliament will have to take a vote to support a ‘no deal’ Brexit on March 13.
If lawmakers reject Mrs May’s Brexit deal and do not support a ‘no deal’ Brexit, Parliament will vote on March 14 to extend Article 50.
Juncker says “high time” to complete withdrawal process and “move on”
In a letter posted on Twitter which published clarifications on the Brexit deal, Mr Juncker said the European Commission and its chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, have worked on a set of further legal reassurances, as discussed several times between Mrs May and himself.
‘I believe now is high time to complete the withdrawal process in line with the wishes expressed by the government of the UK and to move on, as swiftly as possible, to the negotiation of our future partnership.’
The Commission has taken all necessary measures in order to start preparatory talks with the UK immediately after the Withdrawal Agreement is signed, Mr Juncker said.
‘We hope that the UK is as ready and prepared for these important negotiations as we are,’ he said.
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