'No way to change' Brexit deal, says Merkel after May visit

AFP/DPA/The Local
AFP/DPA/The Local - [email protected] • 11 Dec, 2018 Updated Tue 11 Dec 2018 16:46 CEST
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday after talks with British Prime Minister Theresa May that she saw no possibility of reopening the Brexit agreement.

Merkel told lawmakers of her CDU/CSU bloc that she saw "no way to change" the deal reached on November 25th between Britain and the remaining EU members, said sources at the meeting.

SEE ALSO: Brits in Europe vent anger after May postpones Brexit vote

Merkel also stressed to May that any agreements on Brexit could only be struck with the EU as a whole, not bilaterally with member states.

It came after an embarrassing moment for May as she got stuck in her car when she arrived for the crisis Brexit talks with Merkel in Berlin.

The Prime Minister found herself locked in with officials struggling to get the door open, as the Chancellor waited patiently on the red carpet.

May put on a brave face and smiled as she finally emerged to greet Merkel before they went for lunch together. 

May after being stuck in the car in Berlin on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

But the British media said the episode summed up May's bad week that has seen her postpone a key UK parliament vote on her draft Brexit deal. May said she had made the move because of MPs' "concerns" about the backstop, which could threaten "a hard border" between Ireland and Northern Ireland. 

"The deal would be rejected by a significant margin," said May, justifying why the vote will be delayed. "We will not seek to divide the house at this time." The issue of the backstop is the one that has caused the largest division."

SEE ALSO: UK can cancel Brexit before March 29th without EU's consent, court rules

Seeking 'reassurances'

May visited three European capitals Tuesday in a desperate bid to salvage her Brexit deal, a day after delaying a parliamentary vote on the text to avoid a crushing defeat.

May's schedule included meetings with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Merkel and European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker.

She was seeking "reassurances" over provisions in the EU withdrawal agreement concerning Northern Ireland, which she hopes could persuade her rebellious Conservative party to support it.

Like Merkel, EU leaders and the major parties in the European Parliament also reject amendments to the 585-page Brexit agreement. "Everyone must know that the treaty will not be reopened," Juncker said in the EU Parliament. But he was open to "clarifications". There is room for manoeuvre without changing the agreement itself, he said.



AFP/DPA/The Local 2018/12/11 16:46

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