The EU expressed profound regret over Tuesday’s result in the House of Commons which saw British MPs overwhelmingly rejected the EU-UK Brexit agreement by a margin of 432 to 202.
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said in Strasbourg:
“We profoundly regret this vote because we built this Withdrawal Agreement together with the British government on an objective basis ,taking into account our shared demands to ensure we don’t have a border on Ireland and preserve constitutional integrity of the U.K.”
Speaking during a Brexit debate in the European Parliament plenary, Barnier said that listening to the public statements made by members of the House of Commons were hard to hear, but noted that they were sometimes quite contradictory or opposing in their views.
Barnier said the EU’s priorities post-Brexit remain “focused on avoiding that (no deal withdrawal) scenario but at [the] same time we must remain lucid and clear in our approach,” said Barnier, adding that this is why the EU is “stepping up its preparations”.
The clock is ticking, according to Barnier, both for the EU and the UK as the withdrawal deadline is just “10 weeks away…We fear more than ever the risk of a no deal”, he said before adding, that an orderly Brexit will remain his “absolute priority” in the coming weeks, particularly when it comes to the backstop agreement over the status of Northern Ireland.
The EU will be ready to work hand-in-hand with the UK if it chooses to alter its negotiating parameters and go for a “more ambitious” agreement, said Barnier, meaning a closer relationship which of course will then come with more rights and obligations.
“It is up to the British government to indicate how to take things forward. Contrary to what has been said over last days and weeks, the agreement we have reached with the British is a good agreement. Of course, it is the result of compromise, but it is the best possible compromise,” added Barnier.
Timmermans: We will have to look for a way forward
The European Commission deputy head, Frans Timmermans, who was a stand-in for Juncker while attending a European Council meeting in Strasbourg said the latter had to rush back to Brussels due to the Brexit crisis and underlined that the vote in the House of Commons made it clear that the Withdrawal Agreement was now dead and both the EU and the UK “will have to look for a way forward”.
“No one should be under any illusion, Brexit does harm. It does harm to the UK and EU. We are under an obligation as politicians to limit the harm to the absolute minimum possible. We do believe the Withdrawal Agreement delivered on that obligations,” added Timmermans.
Greens want a second referendum, Farage says no
Greens/EFA The co-chair of the Greens, Philippe Lamberts, engaged in a war of words with the father of the Brexit movement, Nigel Farage, when the former called for a second referendum.
Farage, whose UKIP party spearheaded the Brexit movement, slammed the suggestion, saying that a second referendum will enrage the British public. According to Farage, a second referendum will push them “too far”.