May to reopen Brexit negotiations

May to reopen Brexit negotiations

Agency News

London, Jan 30: British Prime Minister Theresa May won parliament's backing on Tuesday to renegotiate her Brexit deal - a major policy reversal that sets up a new standoff with the EU after it ruled out any change.

Observers termed this as a sharp reversal of policy, the British Prime Minister agreed to return to Brussels and reopen Brexit talks, even though she previously said the idea was a non-starter and the EU has repeatedly insisted the deal is locked down.

May's dramatic decision to abandon a pact she herself sealed with the 27 EU leaders at a summit last month came with Britain on course to crash out of the bloc after 46 years in a blaze of political and economic chaos on Mar 29.

The pound plunged on fears of a no-deal scenario as MPs voted through an amendment saying they would only support a divorce deal if the controversial "backstop" clause to keep the Irish border open was removed.

Channel news Asia while quoting a spokesman for EU leader Donald Tusk said the divorce deal was "not open for renegotiation" while French President Emmanuel Macron said it was the "best agreement possible".

MPs also voted in favour of a non-binding measure that "rejects the United Kingdom leaving the European Union without a Withdrawal Agreement".

But they failed to vote through a more important plan, backed by European supporters, that would have tried to force through a Brexit delay if no new deal with the EU emerged by Feb 26.

May now faces a formidable challenge convincing Brussels to re-open talks that took 18 excruciating months to conclude.

She said parliament's approval of the backstop amendment gave her the "mandate" to "seek to obtain legally binding changes to the withdrawal agreement".

But she conceded that there was "limited appetite" in the EU for renegotiation.

"It won't be easy," said May. "But in contrast to a fortnight ago, this house has made it clear what it need to approve the withdrawal agreement."

Earlier on Jan 15, Parliament had voted against the draft deal by a crushing margin which significantly raised the risk that Britain's departure without a plan on March 29 will create trade and economic disruptions on both sides of the Channel. (UNI)