British prime minister Theresa May seeking significant changes to Brexit divorce deal

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May speaks during a debate on her Brexit 'plan B' in Parliament, in London, Britain, January 29, 2019, in this screen grab taken from video. Reuters TV via REUTERS
Updated 30 January 2019

British prime minister Theresa May seeking significant changes to Brexit divorce deal

  • May seeking "significant changes" to the deal
  • Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he believed the government would have to delay departure

LONDON: Britain's parliament sent a clear message to Brussels on Tuesday evening about what it will take to get a Brexit deal approved, Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman said after an extended parliamentary vote demanding changes to the current exit deal.

"Tonight parliament has sent a clear message that there is a way forward to secure this deal if we are able to secure changes in relation to the backstop," the spokesman said.

"The EU's position remains that they want the United Kingdom to leave with a deal. They want the UK to leave with a deal because it's in their interests as well as those of the UK."

British Prime Minister Theresa May has sought backing to renegotiate the Brexit divorce deal agreed with the European Union to secure “significant” changes.

“What I am talking about is not a further exchange of letters but a significant and legally binding change to the withdrawal agreement,” May told parliament on Tuesday.

“Negotiating such a change will not be easy. It will involve reopening the withdrawal agreement, a move for which I know there is limited appetite among our European partners.”

"The time has come for words to be matched by deeds," she told the House of Commons. 

"If you want to tell Brussels what this House will accept, you have to vote for it. If you want to leave with a deal, you have to vote for it. If you want Brexit, you have to vote for Brexit.”

She added: "The odds of success become far longer if this House ties one hand behind my back. So I call on the House to give me the mandate I need to deliver a deal this House can support. Do that and I can work to reopen the withdrawal agreement." 

However, opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he believed the government would have to delay departure from the EU as time runs out to get a deal with Brussels.

"Whatever happens in the votes that follow it has now become inevitable that the government will have to extend Article 50 in any scenario," Corbyn said in parliament before a vote on ways to alter and shape Prime Minister Theresa May's next steps on Brexit. 

Meanwhile, EU leader Donald Tusk warned the UK that the Brexit withdrawal deal was "not open for renegotiation", according to his spokesperson.

Tusk, whose European Council represents EU leaders, contacted European capitals after Prime Minister Theresa May said she would ask Brussels to remove the "Irish backstop" from the accord.
"We continue to urge the UK government to clarify its intentions with respect to the next steps as soon as possible," the spokesman said.

"The Withdrawal Agreement is and remains the best and only way to ensure an orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union.

"The backstop is part of the Withdrawal Agreement, and the Withdrawal Agreement is not open for renegotiation."

Nevertheless, the spokesman repeated the longstanding EU position that the other members could find a way of tweaking a political declaration that was issued with the withdrawal deal.And he said that if Britain made a "reasoned request" to extend the Brexit deadline beyond March 29, and if member states agree unanimously, this could be arranged.


North Korea says it won’t give Trump a summit for free

Updated 18 November 2019

North Korea says it won’t give Trump a summit for free

  • Kim Kye Gwan says Washington must discard what North Korea sees as its “hostile” policies to keep the negotiations alive

SEOUL: North Korea has responded to a tweet by US President Donald Trump that hinted at another summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, saying it has no interest in giving Trump further meetings to brag about unless it gets something substantial in return.

The statement on Monday by Foreign Ministry adviser Kim Kye Gwan is the latest call by North Korea for US concessions ahead of an end-of-year deadline set by Kim
Jong Un for the Trump administration to offer mutually acceptable terms for a deal to salvage nuclear diplomacy.

Kim Kye Gwan says Washington must discard what North Korea sees as its “hostile” policies to keep the negotiations alive.