Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has accepted British Prime Minister Theresa May’s invitation to meet in an attempt to hammer out a Brexit deal. The announcement comes after MPs voted against the Irish backstop.
“Tonight a majority of honourable members said they would support a deal,” May said after the vote. “It is now clear that there is a route that can secure a substantial and sustainable majority in this house for leaving the EU with a deal.”
With EU leadership resolutely opposed to renegotiating the agreement, May invited Corbyn to meet for talks, an invitation that Corbyn accepted, after MPs voted 318 to 301 in favour of a symbolic amendment rejecting a no deal Brexit.
“Since we’ve had this debate and the House has emphatically voted to reject the no-deal option that the Prime Minister was supporting…we are prepared to meet her,” Corbyn said. Corbyn had previously rejected talks with May until the possibility of a no-deal Brexit was off the table.
With a majority of members rejecting the Irish backstop, May now faces the challenge of attempting to convince EU leaders to renegotiate the 2017 agreement. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker reportedly told May by phone on Tuesday that he would not budge on his refusal to renegotiate.
European Council President Donald Tusk responded instantly after the Commons vote, stating that the agreement “is not open for renegotiation.”
Immediate response from Brussels via Donald Tusk but in co-ordination with all 27 EU capitals: “The Withdrawal Agreement is not open for renegotiation”.
Irresistible Force, meet Immovable Object.
— James Mates (@jamesmatesitv) January 29, 2019
“There is a limited appetite for such a change in the EU, and negotiating it won’t be easy,” May said after the vote.
MPs voted 317 to 301 in favour of the Brady amendment to May’s Brexit plan on Tuesday. The Brady amendment calls for the contentious Irish backstop to be removed from the withdrawal agreement signed by the UK and EU in 2017. Under the terms of the backstop, the UK would remain in a customs union with the EU until arrangements could be made to avoid the emergence of a hard border between Britain and the EU on the island of Ireland.
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