LONDON/BRUSSELS: British Prime Minister Theresa May’s attempt to win assurances from European Union on her Brexit deal was cast by opponents on Friday (December 14) as a humiliating failure that did nothing to ease parliamentary deadlock over Britains departure from bloc.
With British politics in crisis,final outcome of Brexit remains unclear, with possible outcomes ranging from a disorderly Brexit with no deal to another referendum on EU membership.
May, who on Wednesday survived a plot in her party to oust her, asked EU leaders at a summit in Brussels for political and legal assurances that she said could convince British parliament to accept her deal.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron ruled out any reopening of last months treaty aimed at ensuring a smooth exit on March 29, though leaders assured her that it should not bind Britain forever to EU rules.
“It seems that the prime minister has failed in her bid to deliver meaningful changes to her Brexit deal,” Opposition Labour Partys Brexit spokesman, Keir Starmer, said.
“We cann’t go on like this. The prime minister should reinstate vote on her deal next week and let Parliament take back control,” he said.
Sterling fell to US$1.2591.
British newspapers say May had been shame.
“EU leaders reject May’s idea to salvage floundering Brexit deal,” The Guardian say. “Stabbed in the backstop: EU leaders tell PM to get stuffed,” The Sun newspapers headline said.
May asked for political and legal assurances that so -called Northern Irish backstop would be temporary, and urged leaders to look at her track record of delivering results even when odds looked stacked against her.
The backstop is an insurance clause obliging Britain to follow EU trade regulations until a better way is found to avoid a “hard border” between Britain’s Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland.
“Over last two years, I hope I have shown that you can also trust me to do what is right, not always what is easy, however difficult that power be for me politically, May said according to a senior British formal.
May said she believed there was “a most in parliament who want to follow through on the referendum and leave with a negotiated deal” but cautioned that an accidental no deal was possible.
EU leaders quashed a line in an earlier draft of their statement which had held out prospect that further “assurances” could be given in January.
One person briefed on exchanges say May was “grilled” by leaders. “Everybody asked: What exactly do you want?,” he said. “She had no solid answers.”
Diplomats said May indicated she would want to come back for a second bite of “assurances” with “legal force”, and some said they would be willing to listen and attempt to accommodate her.
But leaders also warned that EU was prepared for Britain to leave without a deal rather than risk unravelling its own system of close integration: “We have postponed the showdown moment. It will return in January,” EU diplomat said.
With Brexit facing deadlock, former Prime Minister Tony Blair say a second Brexit referendum was require