Published: Sun, December 16, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

European Union united on need for border backstop, Leo Varadkar says

European Union united on need for border backstop, Leo Varadkar says

Prime Minister May remains hopeful that some sort of legal legerdemain can persuade doubting MPs to support the Brexit deal, but in Brussels, many European Union leaders were reportedly sceptical that she could pass the deal through the UK's Parliament.

"The reason I think, in the end, the European Union will want to help us as far as they possibly can is because it is not in their interest to provoke a further political crisis in the UK".

European Union leaders expressed deep doubts Friday that British Prime Minister Theresa May can live up to her side of their Brexit agreement and they vowed to step up preparations for a potentially-catastrophic no-deal scenario.

He said: "How can we be sure that it is going to be enough?"

The EU27 have said they will do their utmost so that the backstop - meant to ensure there is no return to a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic - will not be needed.

'There is work still to do and we will be holding talks in coming days about how to obtain the further assurances that the UK Parliament needs in order to be able to approve the deal'.

In a press conference at the end of a European Council summit in Brussels, the Prime Minister acknowledged that it would not be possible to reopen the agreement to alter the backstop provisions which have sparked mass rebellion among Tory MPs.

After testy behind-the-scenes exchanges in Brussels, and a textual hardening overnight of a communique from the national leaders of the EU's 27 other member states, the embattled May continued to put a courageous face on the rejection in a brief press conference Friday.

But Mr Juncker criticised Britain's lack of clarity over what it was seeking from the future relationship.

"As Europe, we reaffirmed our commitment for the need for a backstop", he said.

'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'.

However, May insisted at the summit's conclusion on Friday that further clarification was still possible with German Chancellor Angela Merkel saying: "We want to be helpful".

May had sought legally binding changes to the agreement from European Union ministers, but the 27 other European Union leaders offered only reassurances. Presently, the party appears deeply divided as her Brexit proposal survived by a margin of 200 votes to 117 in the Conservative confidence vote.

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?'

"The prime minister should reinstate the vote on her deal next week and let Parliament take back control".

MPs were due to vote on Mrs May's Brexit deal on Tuesday, but it was postponed when the prime minister admitted it would have been "rejected by a significant margin".

The EU's spurning of May in Brussels is likely to worsen her plight in London, where she's being described as a "zombie leader" and is still struggling to get a hold on her party, despite overcoming a challenge Wednesday to unseat her as Conservative party leader - and therefore prime minister.

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