European Council President Donald Tusk announced that an extraordinary meeting would be convened after UK Prime Minister Theresa May made the stunning announcement that she would postpone a landmark vote in the British House of Commons on an agreement that she negotiated about the United Kingdom’s future relationship with the European Union once London officially withdraws from the bloc in March of next year.
Tusk said EU leaders will not renegotiate the UK’s Brexit deal, including the issue over the Irish border.
“We will not renegotiate the deal, including the backstop,” Tusk said on Twitter after May proclaimed that she would return to Brussels to discuss with Europeans an insurance clause that would bind the UK into a virtual customs union with the EU in order to avoid a hard border being re-established between UK member Northern Ireland and Ireland, which will remain in the EU.
May had come under heavy pressure from her own Conservative government to delay the vote until a time limit can be agreed upon with the EU over the status of the Irish border, known as the backstop, May opted to buy additional time before the House of Commons casts a ballot and would return to Brussels in an attempt to get further legal assurances from the EU about the future of the border and the status of Britain in a customs union with Brussels.
May said the broader question on the table was whether the House wanted to deliver on the will of the people for Brexit or open further divisions in the world’s fifth largest economy.