Brexit: New London-Brussels tension as May says deal must change, EU says no
Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit Plan B is due to be voted in the House of Commons on Tuesday. A raft of amendments to the Plan B statement made by May last week will also be taken up on Tuesday, seeking to alter aspects of the Brexit process.
As retailers raised the spectre of food shortages if the UK left the EU on March 29 without an agreement, Downing Street insisted on Monday that the agreement voted down in parliament earlier this month will have to be changed by Brussels.
EU officials, however, insisted that the agreement forged after over two years of talks is not open for re-negotiation, setting up another round of battle of attrition between the two capitals.
Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit Plan B is due to be voted in the House of Commons on Tuesday. A raft of amendments to the Plan B statement made by May last week will also be taken up on Tuesday, seeking to alter aspects of the Brexit process, including on the sensitive issue of the ‘backstop’ for Ireland-Northern Ireland.
A Downing Street spokesman said: “What we have consistently heard from European leaders is that they want the United Kingdom to leave with a deal. There’s a recognition that the United Kingdom leaving with a deal is in their best interests, as well as those of the UK.”
“The deal which has been agreed was defeated by parliament. Therefore, if we are going to leave with a deal, clearly we are going to need to make some changes in order to win parliamentary support.”
However, the demand for change was soon shot down by Margaritis Schinas, spokesman of the European Commission: “We have a unanimous EU27 position on the withdrawal agreement which reflects the common EU position. This withdrawal agreement has been agreed with the UK government, it is endorsed by leaders and is not open for renegotiation.”
“The only thing I have to say is that we shall wait for the result of the vote of the Commons tomorrow. Then we will wait for the government to tell us what are the next steps. That’s how it’s going to work.”
Meanwhile, a letter by the British Retail Consortium signed by several major food retailers warned MPs that a no-deal Brexit will threaten the UK’s food security, leading to higher prices and empty shelves.
The letter from the retailers says there will be “significant risks” to maintaining the choice, quality and shelf life of food, the BBC reported. “We are extremely concerned that our customers will be among the first to experience the realities of a no deal Brexit,” the letter says.