EU leaders seal Brexit deal, urge Britons to back May

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union leaders formally agreed a Brexit deal at a Brussels summit on Sunday, urging Britons to back Prime Minister Theresa May’s bundle, which faces livid opposition within the British parliament.

British Prime Minister Theresa May (R) and European Union Council President Donald Tusk in the course of the extraordinary EU leaders summit to finalise and formalise the Brexit settlement in Brussels, Belgium November 25, 2018. Olivier Hoslet/Pool through REUTERS

The 27 leaders took barely half an hour to rubber-stamp a 600-page treaty setting phrases for Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union on March 29 and a 26-page declaration outlining a future free buying and selling relationship. May joined them shortly afterwards for what might be a short assembly to seal the accord.

“This is the deal,” European Union chief government Jean-Claude Juncker instructed reporters on his method in to the assembly, saying he believed May would get it by means of parliament and ruling out massive new concessions.

“Now it is time for everybody to take responsibility — everybody,” stated Michel Barnier, the Frenchman who has floor out the withdrawal treaty over the previous 18 months.

Juncker known as it “a sad day”, saying Brexit was a “tragedy” and hard on each side.

“I believe that the British government will succeed in securing the backing of the British parliament,” Juncker stated, declining to touch upon what may occur if May fails.

“I would vote in favor of this deal because this is the best deal possible for Britain,” he added.

In an indication of worries forward, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite tweeted after the deal was endorsed within the summit chamber that the exit course of was “far from over”.

Barnier known as the bundle a foundation for shut future ties, insisting: “We will remain allies, partners and friends.”

French President Emmanuel Macron stated the Brexit vote confirmed Europe wanted reform. He burdened that Paris would maintain Britain to tight EU laws, notably on the atmosphere, in return for giving it simple commerce entry.

The departure of a nation lengthy skeptical of deeper EU integration was, Macron stated, neither a second for celebration nor mourning, however Britons’ free selection.


Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, whose nation is one in every of Britain’s closest buying and selling companions, praised May’s dealing with of the tough negotiations and stated he was assured that she might see the deal by means of parliament within the coming weeks.

But he additionally had a warning for these in May’s Conservative get together in addition to the Labour opposition who argue that a greater deal can nonetheless be performed earlier than Britain leaves in 4 months if lawmakers deny her minority authorities help on Brexit.

“This is the maximum we can all do,” Rutte stated, shaking his head when requested if the EU may make extra concessions.

Saying the EU “hates” Brexit, Rutte stated: “Nobody’s winning — we are all losing.” But, he stated, the deal was a suitable compromise for all that gave May an opportunity to clinch an answer.

The greatest query now going through the EU is whether or not May’s divided minority authorities can steer the deal, which foresees London following many EU guidelines to hold simple commerce entry, by means of fierce resistance in parliament within the coming weeks from each supporters and opponents of Brexit.

Lithuanian President Grybauskaite stated there have been a minimum of 4 attainable outcomes if parliament blocks the bundle. She named three – that Britons would maintain a second referendum, maintain a brand new election to substitute May or return to Brussels to attempt to renegotiate the bundle. A fourth is that Britain will merely crash out of the bloc on March 29 with out authorized readability.

Both sides have been making preparations for such a “no deal” situation, although the EU insists Britain has extra to lose. The pound has strengthened because the deal got here collectively over the previous 10 days, however corporations and buyers stay nervous.

The bundle foresees little altering throughout a transition interval lasting one other two to 4 years.


The Democratic Unionist Party, whose votes from Northern Ireland have helped May to govern since she misplaced her majority in a snap election final yr, stated it will strive to block a Brexit deal it known as “pitiful” – partly as a result of it binds London to many EU guidelines it is going to not assist set and partly because the DUP fears it might weaken the province’s ties to Britain.

In an open letter to the nation May stated she would marketing campaign “heart and soul” to get her Brexit deal by means of.

“It will be a deal that is in our national interest – one that works for our whole country and all of our people, whether you voted Leave or Remain,” she stated.

Sunday newspapers stated completely different factions in her personal Conservative get together had been making ready various plans to hold Britain nearer to the EU ought to her deal fail as many anticipate.

Wrangling over how to hold open troubled Northern Ireland’s land border with the EU with out creating obstacles with the Irish Republic dogged a lot of the Brexit talks. Another relic of the imperial previous, Britain’s 300-year-old naval base on Spain’s southern coast, threatened to derail plans on the final minute.

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Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez threatened to boycott Sunday’s assembly if he didn’t get amendments to the deal to guarantee Madrid will get a say in Gibraltar’s future ties with the EU.

After officers wrangled by means of the night time, he introduced on Saturday afternoon that he had such written pledges. Brussels officers stated these basically confirmed what most EU leaders had already understood – that Spain will need to have a binding say over how any future EU-UK commerce pact may have an effect on Gibraltar.

Additional reporting by Gabriela Baczynska, Foo Yun Chee, Philip Blenkinsop, Alastair Macdonald, Peter Maushagen, Jean-Baptiste Vey and Belen Carreno in Brussels; writing by Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Alexander Smith

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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