Brexit deal: Jean-Claude Juncker reconfirms the Withdrawal Agreement can not be renegotiated

Brexit deal: Jean-Claude Juncker reconfirms the Withdrawal Agreement can not be renegotiated

However, various EU leaders have suggested there will be no revisions to the deal, with European Council President Donald Tusk saying: "The backstop is part of the withdrawal agreement, and the withdrawal agreement is not open for renegotiation".

And he warned that the British vote had only "increased the risk of a disorderly withdrawal" and of Northern Ireland "slipping back into darker times past". Our plan, now referred to as Plan C or the "Malthouse compromise", involves a new backstop that is acceptable indefinitely, but which incentivises us all to reach a new future relationship and ensures there is no need for a hard border on the island of Ireland.

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator told Britain on Wednesday that time was too short to find an alternative to the Irish border arrangement agreed in their divorce deal, as London wants, and that this deal was not open for renegotiation.

It called for the insurance policy to prevent a hard border in Ireland - which would impose European Union regulations on the United Kingdom if no trade deal is agreed with Brussels by the end of 2020 - to be replaced with "alternative arrangements" such as automated customs technology. However, this is not legally binding, which means a no-deal outcome is still possible. Unlike the binding divorce agreement, the non-binding declaration can be renegotiated to ease concerns on the backstop, he said. The EU parliament point-man on Brexit, Guy Verhofstadt, underlined that nobody in Europe wants to use the backstop but that it's "needed to be 100 percent sure that there is no border between Northern Ireland and the Irish republic".

In a terse phone call between Mr Varadkar and Mrs May, the Taoiseach said Ireland's position remained "unchanged".

"There can be no change to the backstop", Ireland's European Affairs Minister Helen McEntee said.

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A bid to delay Brexit if no deal can be agreed, which was rejected by the House of Commons on Tuesday, could return, as could calls for a second Brexit referendum. The bloc fears Britain would not do that.

May has said she will speak to the European Union to seek the changes demanded by parliament, but she has no confirmed plans to travel to Brussels yet. And on the thorny topic of Brexit, so it has proved in the Conservative party this week.

However, Downing Street says it is seeking to build a consensus, and in Tuesday's votes some opposition Labour MPs from Brexit-voting constituencies fell in behind the government.

The impasse has left Britain lurching toward its European Union exit without a deal to ease the way.

"Jeremy made the case for our alternative plan", the spokesperson said, adding that the tone had been "serious and engaged" and that the two had agreed to meet again.

British lawmakers on Tuesday approved a proposal calling on the government to prevent a no-deal exit, sending a signal that a majority opposes it. However, they rejected two amendments that set out a clear path for parliament to prevent it. This could be an oppportunity for an eleventh-hour deal, or it would be the last chance to agree an extension of the Article 50 negotiation period and delay Brexit to avoid no-deal disruptions.

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