Brussels talks tough after May quits – claiming new PM can’t tear up Brexit deal and start again

BRUSSELS chiefs moved quickly today to warn Theresa May’s successor they won’t be able to renegotiate her Brexit deal.

Irish deputy PM Simon Coveney said the EU’s patience has “run out” and that it won’t reopen talks on the hated backstop.

EU bosses say the Brexit deal can’t be renegotiated

He said: “I think anything is possible now. But I think Britain needs to be careful. From an EU perspective I think patience has run out in many ways.

“Regardless of who the British PM is, the EU position will remain that the withdrawal agreement took two-and-a-half years to negotiate and it’s closed.”

Emmanuel Macron called for a “quick clarification” of Britain’s intentions but insisted a new face in No10 won’t change the EU’s approach.

His spokesman said: “The principles of the EU will continue to apply, including the priority to preserve the smooth functioning of the EU.”

Leading figures in Brussels and European capitals warned they will not risk the bloc’s credibility by rushing to help a new Brexiteer PM.

Belgian MEP Philippe Lamberts, the leader of the European Greens, warned Boris Johnson he would face “exactly the same constraints” as Mrs May did.

The withdrawal agreement took two-and-a-half years to negotiate and it’s closed

Simon Coveney

The EU Commission insisted the appointment of a new PM will not change its position that backstop can’t be renegotiated.

One EU diplomat said leaders will refuse to renegotiate the deal because it is a “fundamental question of our credibility” on the world stage.

They said: “Will we it throw all away just to help a Brexiteer like Boris Johnson? Can you see President Macron doing that?”

A second added: “The new PM must see that the current stalemate in the UK is brought to an end as soon as possible.

“The enduring uncertainty affects both sides. The withdrawal agreement will provide for an orderly departure and swift ratification is therefore key.”


One top diplomat said: “Some of us would welcome Boris. It simplifies things. It means the choice is No Deal or Remain. And Boris can only go one way.”

Asked about trying to renegotiate the deal, an EU official drily noted: “It is up to the UK how they decide to use their extension time.”

Mrs May is expected to update fellow leaders on the situation in the UK at a summit in Brussels on Tuesday.

Angela Merkel’s deputy spokesman Martina Fietz said Brexit will now be added to the agenda so EU leaders can discuss their “next steps”.

EU chiefs yesterday paid warm tribute to the PM’s character and expressed sadness at her demise.

Leo Varadkar called her “principled, honourable, and deeply passionate about doing her best for her country”.

The Irish PM said fellow leaders had “admired her tenacity, her courage, and her determination during what has been a difficult and challenging time”.

A spokeswoman for Jean-Claude Juncker said the EU boss had watched the PM’s announcement “without personal joy”.

She said: “The President very much liked and appreciated working with Theresa May. She is a woman of courage for whom he has great respect.”

She added Mr Juncker will “equally respect and establish working relations” with the next PM “whoever they may be”.

Simon Coveney said the withdrawal agreement is fixed
PA:Press Association
The PM broke down as she resigned outside No10
Getty Images – Getty

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