Last month, Theresa May was granted a new Brexit extension by the EU until October, as she struggled to gain majority support for her deal from MPs in the House of Commons. The Prime Minister has seen her Brexit agreement suffer three separate crushing defeats in Westminster as MPs refuse to get behind her deal. She also sparked further fury among her feuding Government by opening cross-party talks with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn earlier this month, but these negotiations collapsed last week without any positive outcome.
The Prime Minister will now bring her Withdrawal Bill Agreement to Parliament next week, promising to make a “bold offer” to MPs.
Mrs May has been continuously urged to seek further concessions from Brussels but despite the chaos engulfing the UK and the bloc as a whole, the EU is refusing to budge on its hardline stance.
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier told German newspaper Bild am Sonntag: “We have negotiated this agreement with the British and respected all their red lines, but they must also respect our principles.
“They are the ones who are leaving us – not the other way around – we are now waiting for them to take responsibility for their decision.”
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Mr Barnier repeated the negotiated Brexit deal is “the only way for Great Britain to leave the European Union in an orderly manner”.
His latest rejection comes after Ireland insisted the EU will not renegotiate the Brexit deal – even if there is a new Prime Minister in place.
Mrs May’s has agreed to outline a timetable for her departure after the Withdrawal Bill Agreement is brought to the Commons at the start of next month, sparking an immediate leadership contest.
But Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney, who described the political crisis swarming Westminster as “extraordinary”, questioned the logic of politicians who believed a change of leader would deliver changes to the agreement struck by Theresa May.
He told Irish broadcaster RTE: “The EU has said very clearly the Withdrawal Agreement has been negotiated over two-and-a-half years, it was agreed with the British Government and the British Cabinet and it’s not up for renegotiation, even if there is a new British Prime Minister.
“The personality might change but the facts don’t.”
Mr Coveney also insisted the UK should not assume another Brexit extension will be granted by the EU if a deal cannot be agreed in the UK Parliament by the latest October deadline.
Ireland’s Foreign Minister fears the aftermath of this week’s European elections will see major challenges emerge for the EU, which could mean it would devote less time to Brexit.
He said: “That’s my concern – that Britain will fail to get its act together over the summer.
“There will be people like Nigel Farage and some within the Conservative Party who will be making the proposition that ‘look, we have had enough of this, let’s just leave on WTO (World Trade Organisation) terms without a deal’ – in my view not fully understanding or not being honest about the full consequences of that for Britain and Ireland.”
“The danger of course is that the British system will simply not be able to deal with this issue and even though there is a majority in Westminster who want to be able to prevent a no-deal Brexit it could happen by default.”
But Mr Barnier did offer some glimmer of hope to Britain ahead of the European elections, after speaking out in favour of British Commissioner for the European Commission.
He told Bild am Sonntag: “As long as the UK is a member of the EU, it has all rights and obligations.
“This includes the right to a Commissioner and the right to be represented by Members of the European Parliament. There will not be a two-tier Parliament.”
Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg.