EU reject Theresa May’s Brexit renegotiation request

Handshake between Theresa May, on the left, and Jean-Claude Juncker

Theresa May traveled to Brussels on Thursday to meet with European Union leaders in the hope of renegotiation part of the withdrawal agreement that will see the UK leave the EU in the next few months. However, they refused to change any aspect of the agreement, with the Northern Ireland backstop once again the sticking point.

Upon arrival on Wednesday, May claimed that she didn’t “expect an immediate breakthrough”, but hoped that changes could be made in order to get an improved deal. May is allegedly worried that MPs will vote down her deal when it goes before Parliament in the rescheduled vote in January.

It is understood that she traveled to Brussels with one plan, to suggest that there shouldn’t be an end date to the backstop in Northern Ireland, but a start date of a future relationship. However, she left on Thursday without any pledge from the EU27 leaders, with some diplomats describing her performance as “bad” and “vague”, according to BBC reporter Adam Fleming.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said that the UK cannot renegotiate any part of the deal, and made reference to the UK’s approach to Brexit, claiming that May had not said enough about what she wanted, rather taking a lead from the EU.

“We don’t want the UK to think there can be any form of renegotiation, that is crystal clear.

“We can add clarifications but no real changes. There will be no legally binding obligations imposed on the withdrawal treaty.

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

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

Jean-Claude Juncker

Juncker admitted that he found it “hard” to understand the “state of mind” of Conservative MPs who have vowed to reject the deal. A number that currently stands over 100. Juncker wants them all to ready the deal “line by line” indicating that he feels some don’t fully understand the text.

May will return to the European Council on Friday to continue talks with the EU27 leaders, specifically about migration. 

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