May leaves EU summit without Brexit reassurance

Updated December 15, 2018

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British Premier Theresa May put a brave face on EU's apparent rebuff and set off back to London. — File photo
British Premier Theresa May put a brave face on EU's apparent rebuff and set off back to London. — File photo

BRUSSELS: British Prime Minister Theresa May left the EU summit on Friday exactly as she had arrived — promising more talks to ex­­tract reassuring words from EU leaders to help her sell the Brexit deal back home.

In the intervening hours those leaders had expressed frustration with May’s allegedly “nebulous” strategy to get the withdrawal treaty past the House of Commons and insisted yet again that they will not renegotiate the text.

May nevertheless put a brave face on the apparent rebuff and set off back to London to restart plans to put the Brexit deal before parliament, just five days after she abandoned a scheduled vote in the face of mass opposition from her own MPs.

“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,” she said.

It was not immediately clear which further talks she was referring to, as the EU leaders had cut a clause from a draft declaration that would have promised “further assurances” on the border issue.

European officials said no further EU summits are scheduled before January 21, by which time May has said the deal will have gone to parliament, and nor has May requested one.

Instead, the Europeans called for more details from the prime minister as to how she intends to pass a withdrawal bill that, as it stands, is opposed by a clear majority of British lawmakers.

“The signals we heard yesterday were not particularly reassuring on Britain’s capacity to honour the commitments that were made,” Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said.

“So we will make sure to prepare for all scenarios and prepare also for a no-deal scenario,” he added, as he arrived for the second and final day of the EU summit.

On Thursday, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker repeated the warning made all week by European leaders that “there is no room whatsoever for renegotiation” of the deal.

Published in Dawn, December 15th, 2018