Tuesday, June 25

EU leaders unanimous: There will be no renegotiation of Brexit deal



EU leaders are “unanimous” that the new British prime minister will not be able to renegotiate the Brexit withdrawal agreement, the European Commission president has said.

Jean-Claude Juncker was speaking in Brussels after a meeting with the 27 presidents and prime ministers of the remaining EU countries.

“On Brexit there was nothing new nothing new, because we repeated unanimously that there will be no renegotiation of the withdrawal agreement,” he told reporters.

His colleague Donald Tusk, speaking at the same press conference added: “We have agreed on the following united approach of the EU27. We look forward to working together with the next UK prime minister, we want to avoid a disorderly Brexit and establish a future relationship that is as close as possible with the UK.

 “We are open for talks when it comes to the declaration of the future relationship, were the position of the UK to evolve, but the withdrawal agreement is not open for negotiation.”

In practice, the EU’s position means that if the UK wants to add a customs union or single market membership – as Labour does – there could be talks. However, any attempt to remove the Irish backstop or change the financial settlement would be met with a stone wall.

Mr Tusk added: “Maybe the process of Brexit will be even more exciting before because of some personal decisions in London, but nothing has changed when it comes to our position.”

Theresa May attended the Brussels meeting on Thursday but left before leaders discussed Brexit without her. The UK’s departure was for once not the centre of attention at the meeting, which mainly focused on filling the EU’s top jobs, and what its climate change policy should be.

On Thursday arriving at the meeting Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar warned that EU leaders had run out of “patience” with Britain and would only be minded to grant a further Brexit extension at the end of October for a general election or second referendum.

“I think an extension could really only happen if it were to facilitate something like a general election in the UK, or even something like a second referendum, if they decided to have one. What won’t be entertained is an extension for further negotiations or further indicative votes. The time for that has long since passed,” he told reporters on the doorstep of the meeting.

The UK is currently set to crash out of the bloc on 31 October without a deal if MPs to not ratify the withdrawal agreement, or cancel the Brexit process.