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Brexit

EU warns UK not to expect changes to Brexit deal

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker speaks with British Prime Minister Theresa May in Brussels, 13 December 2018.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker speaks with British Prime Minister Theresa May in Brussels, 13 December 2018. Reuters/Yves Herman

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned on Wednesday that the British parliament’s decision to demand changes to the Brexit withdrawal deal as increased the risk of a turbulent separation.

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Speaking to European lawmakers, Juncker said the bloc’s position remained tied to an agreement signed last year with British Prime Minister Theresa May.

British MPs rejected that deal by a wide margin this month and agreed Tuesday to send May into new negotiations in hopes of reaching a deal that would have the backing of parliament.

May vowed to seek “legally binding changes” to the deal, although she also acknowledged her government had not decided how to approach key issues.

And while the chief of the European Union’s executive body said he still wanted to avoid a “no deal” separation, he also warned that the vote in the UK Parliament had not changed the EU’s position.

“Yesterday’s vote increased the risk of a disorderly withdrawal,” Juncker told MEPs. “We need to be ready for all scenarios, including the worst.”

He insisted that the “backstop” clause that would give insurance against the return of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland must remain.

Many eurosceptic MPs in London fear the backstop would trap Britain within EU regulations on the border.

Britain is due to exit the EU in less than two months, on 29 March.

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