Brexit: EU cautions Britain against seeking to renegotiate draft deal | News | DW | 16.11.2018
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Brexit: EU cautions Britain against seeking to renegotiate draft deal

British Prime Minister Theresa May is fighting for her political life and approval of a draft Brexit deal. European Union leaders show very little appetite for reopening talks on the deal if she fails on either front.

European Union leaders warned on Friday against any British attempt to renegotiate a draft Brexit deal as British Prime Minister Theresa May faced down stiff opposition to the agreement.

"This is a withdrawal agreement which took the best part of two years to negotiate involving 28 countries," said Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar. "If you start trying to amend it or unthink it, you might find that the whole thing unravels."

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said any changes to the draft were unlikely. "A deal is only a deal if both sides of the channel agree to it," he said.

May's nemeses

May was defiant in defending the deal on Thursday after it was ravaged by some UK lawmakers for failing to secure a clean break from the EU and others for being worse than EU membership.

Several ministers, including May's chief Brexit negotiator, Dominic Raab, resigned in protest, while dozens of pro-Brexit members of her Conservative Party signed letters requesting a no-confidence vote in her leadership.

The prospect of May's ouster or the deal's failure in the British Parliament has raised concerns that Britain could try to renegotiate the agreement before its scheduled exit on March 29, 2019.

But EU leaders already signaled on Thursday evening that there was little appetite for more negotiations.

"We have a document on the table that has been adopted by the EU and the UK, and so for me, the question of further negotiations does not arise," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe was blunter, warning that Britain and the EU needed to prepare themselves "for the possibility of a 'no-deal' Brexit."

May's hope

May received some respite on Friday as she announced that Stephen Barclay, a little-known junior health minister, would take over as Brexit secretary.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove, another so-called "Brexiteer," did not resign Friday despite speculation he might do so.

May's staunchly pro-Brexit international trade secretary, Liam Fox, also came to her aid. "I hope that across Parliament we'll recognize that a deal is better than no deal," he said.

EU leaders are set to discuss the draft at a special summit in Brussels on November 25.

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