The EU sends letter of reassurance to Theresa May in last ditch attempt to prevent Brexit deal defeat

Theresa May Jean-Claude Juncker

  • The EU has sent a letter to Theresa May ahead of the crunch Brexit deal vote in the UK parliament. 
  • British MPs are set to vote overwhelmingly against the deal when it comes before the House of Commons on Tuesday.
  • May is under pressure to abandon her deal, as MPs from across the House pressure her to back a second referendum, call a general election, or delay Brexit.
  • The letter falls well short of the „legally binding reassurances“ May had sought from the EU on the question of the Northern Irish backstop.

The EU has sent an attempted letter of reassurance to the prime minister Theresa May in a last ditch attempt to save their Brexit deal with the UK. 

The House of Commons is due to vote overwhelmingly against the deal, which was agreed with the EU in November, on Tuesday in what some forecasts suggest could be the biggest defeat for any UK government on record. 

Opposition to the deal centres on the controversial Northern Ireland backstop agreement, which would keep Britain tied to EU custom and trade rules indefinitely if no deal is struck on Britain’s future relationship with the EU by the end of the Brexit transition period.

The letter from the European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, seeks to reassure the UK that any backstop would be „temporary“ and apply only „as long as strictly necessary.“

They state that it would „only apply temporarily, unless and until it is superseded by a subsequent agreement that ensures that a hard border is avoided, and that the European Union, in such a case, would use its best endeavours to negotiate and conclude expeditiously a subsequent agreement that would replace the backstop, and would expect the same of the United Kingdom, so that the backstop would only be in place for as long as strictly necessary.“

The letter also suggests that the accompanying Brexit political declaration will have legal force, due to being published alongside the legally binding Withdrawal Agreement in the EU official journal. 

However, it stops well short of the kind of legally binding assurance that the prime minister had originally sought when she postponed the planned Commons vote on her deal in December.

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Source: Business insider

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