French President Emmanuel Macron has said that the EU has “reached the maximum” of what it could have offered the UK and would not compromise the European interests for the sake of resolving a British political crisis.
Macron was reacting to the stunning defeat of the Brexit deal, thrashed out by British Prime Minister May and the EU negotiators, in the UK Parliament on Tuesday. The deal was voted down by 432 MPs, including some 100 from May’s own party. Only 202 parliamentarians voted in favor, making the defeat record-breaking.
While May now faces a vote of no-confidence at home, the EU has lamented the deal’s spectacular fiasco.
Macron has become one of many European leaders to voice support to the deal, arguing that the “hard Brexit” scenario without any divorce agreement would strike a heavy blow to the UK itself, first and foremost.
“First option, they go toward a no deal. They say: ‘there is no deal’. That’s scary for everybody. The first losers in this would be the British,” the French president, whose own embattled government grapples with the ‘Yellow Vests’ economic protests, said on Tuesday.
Should May take the second option and return to the negotiating table, she should not count on any major breakthrough that will allow her to placate political opponents at home, Macron warned.
Allowing that the EU will “look into” whatever suggestions the UK makes, and that “maybe we’ll make improvements on one or two things,” Macron said it’s highly unlikely.
“I don’t really think so because we’ve reached the maximum of what we could do with the deal and we won’t, just to solve Britain’s domestic political issues, stop defending European interests,” Macron said.
The third option outlined by Macron, is basically an extended second one. It will see the deadline for the UK to leave the EU, currently March 29, extended until new deal is struck. This option has its own drawbacks, as it would “create a great deal of uncertainty and worries,” he said.
Ultimately, it is the UK that should be searching for the best possible getaway scenario, not the EU, Macron said, advising the British government to “figure it out yourselves” and wishing it “good luck” on the way.
France, like another European powerhouse Germany, has previously dismissed the possibility of reopening talks on the withdrawal plan agreed between the UK and the EU on November 14. The agreement contains an Irish border backstop clause and a £39bn ($50bn) divorce bill, but lacks firm reassurances that the backstop would only be a temporary measure.
European Council president Donald Tusk, meanwhile, seemingly encouraged the UK to revise the results of the landmark 2016 referendum in a tweet. “If a deal is impossible, and no one wants no deal, then who will finally have the courage to say what the only positive solution is?” Tusk wrote.
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