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EU leaders approve Brexit deal, say UK Parliament has to vote for plan

PM Theresa May gets her agreement on UK's divorce from European Union at a special summit in Brussels, with leaders of the 27 other member countries backing the legal text

Tim Ross & Ian Wishart | Bloomberg 

President Jean-Claude Juncker, theresa may, UK Pm , May, brexit, EU
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, right, greets British Prime Minister Theresa May at EU headquarters in Brussels. (Photo:PTI)

European leaders gave her deal but warned that the UK Parliament must vote for the plan it stands because negotiations will not be reopened if British politicians reject it.

On Sunday, the prime minister got her agreement on the UK’s divorce from the at a special summit in Brussels, when the leaders of the 27 other member countries backed the legal text.

May now faces huge opposition from her own as she tries to persuade Parliament to back it. Even government ministers admit they have work to do to avoid defeat.

If May loses the vote in the House of Commons, which is expected to be held in December, the UK will be on course to exit the EU in March with no agreement and no transition period to cushion the blow. Some politicians want to send her back to Brussels to renegotiate if her first attempt is voted down.

As they gathered for the summit in Brussels on Sunday, EU leaders were united in saying that the deal on the table is the best the UK will get.

“It is important that everyone in the UK is aware of the fact that this agreement is the final result,” Austrian Chancellor told reporters. “It will definitely not be renegotiated and there will be no further leeway.”

The EU’s chief negotiator issued what sounded like a warning to that they need to ratify the agreement if they want the next phase of talks -- focusing on the future trade terms -- to go well.

“This deal is a necessary step to build the trust between the UK and the EU that we need for the next phase of this unprecedented and ambitious partnership,” Barnier told reporters.“Now it’s time for everybody to take their responsibility.”

But President offered perhaps a glimmer of hope that marginal changes could be possible if May returns to Brussels asking for improvements after Parliament rejects the plan.

“It’s the best deal possible and the will not change its fundamental position when it comes to this issue,” Juncker told reporters on Sunday. “I do think that the British Parliament -- because this is a wise parliament -- will ratify this deal.”

Euroskeptics in May’s hate the withdrawal agreement and are vowing to oppose it because it forces the UK to keep close to the EU’s trade rules. Many pro-EU politicians in Britain also regard it as unacceptable because the UK will not have a say over the rules it must observe.

First Published: Sun, November 25 2018. 16:01 IST