EU leaders react to UK′s Brexit vote — as it happened | News | DW | 16.01.2019
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EU leaders react to UK's Brexit vote — as it happened

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said there was still "time to negotiate" with the UK after parliament rejected Theresa May's Brexit deal. Leaders across the EU urged London to make up its mind on the way forward.

  • Politicians across the EU demanded that the UK provide clarity on Brexit after lawmakers in London voted down a draft divorce deal
  • Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel said there was still "time to negotiate" but British Prime Minister Theresa May would need to come up with a proposal
  • No one wants a "no deal Brexit," but the option is getting closer, said the EU's economy commissioner

All updates in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)

12:57 German business newspaper Handelsblatt reported that the EU could make further concessions in a Brexit deal, but that any measures would require support from Ireland. Handelsblatt cited unnamed diplomatic sources in Brussels.

12:56 British Prime Minister Theresa May refused to back down on the UK's exit from the European Union while being questioned in British parliament a day after her draft deal was rejected.

"The government's policy is that we are leaving the European Union on the 29th of March. But the EU would only extend Article 50 if actually it was clear that there was a plan that was moving towards an agreed deal," May said.

Read more: Brexit: What happens next?

12:06 German Justice Minister Katarina Barley said an extension for Brexit day is possible, but the British government must first put forward proposals.

"The clear rejection of the withdrawal agreement by the British House of Commons puts us in a very difficult situation," Barley said.

Watch video 03:17

Peter Mandelson: "For this deal, the game is up'

11:47 The EU states could agree to extend the Brexit deadline if the UK "provides the reasons for such an extension," said the EU Commission chief spokesman Margaritis Schinas. He added that the agreed terms of the UK's departure could not be reworked, but left some leeway on more peripheral issues, such as a political declaration on trade after Brexit.

"We are always ready to meet and to talk but ... the withdrawal agreement -- and, I repeat, the withdrawal agreement -- agreed by the 27 and the United Kingdom, is not open for renegotiation."

11:35 Commenting on her phone call with Prime Minister Theresa May, Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that it was "not obvious (May) has any real idea what to do next."

"The bare minimum she must do now is seek extension of Article 50 to stop the clock."

Read more: Scotland wants to avoid Brexit but doesn't know how

11:33 EU Commission said that the UK has not yet requested any extension of the Brexit deadline as March 29 looms.

11:22 Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said moving the March 29 Brexit deadline would only be considered if London suggested an orderly strategy and a plan.

"If it is necessary to gain time, we should consider this possibility," he said in Vienna.

11:19 Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said that any sort of Brexit would be harmful.

"Nobody wins, everyone loses," he told EU lawmakers.

11:13 The EU can influence the UK's position by softening its demands on the so-called Irish backstop, said the UK ambassador to Berlin, Sebastian Wood.

The hot-button issue "might be the most important question in the coming days and weeks, and the EU can perhaps be a little helpful in that area," the envoy told the German public broadcaster ZDF.

Read more: Emotions run high as Brexit closes in

10:46 The UK could ask for a postponement of the Brexit end date in order to get a deal through its parliament, said Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. The EU would be ready to consider it in good faith, but would require concrete proposals and concessions from London.

"Then we would continue to spin around the same circle, nobody would be particularly thrilled," he told a Dutch TV broadcaster.

Read more: Brexit endgame: What you need to know

Watch video 00:28

May reacts to losing Brexit deal vote

10:29 Germany's parliament is set to discuss draft laws that would go into effect in the case of a no-deal Brexit tomorrow, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.

"We want to keep the damage — and there will in any event be damage when the UK leaves — to a minimum," she said.

10:10 German Chancellor Angela Merkel said there was still time for a deal with the UK, but added that Berlin is also prepared for no-deal Brexit.

"We still have time to negotiate" Merkel said. "But we are now waiting on what the British prime minister would propose."

9:56 Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said he regretted the defeat of the May deal.

"Europe needs to wait; there is nothing we can do," he while on visit to Bangkok. "The Czechs who live in Great Britain feel insecure."

9:50 Speaking to DW, the head of the EU Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee David McAllister commented on the issue of the so-called Irish backstop. The measure, which would temporarily keep Northern Ireland within the EU trade agreements, was one of the reasons for the UK deputies to vote the deal down.

"We don't want it to be really put in place," he said, adding that the "British side had the idea of the backstop and now they're blaming the European side (for) why it couldn't work."

9:24 Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said that the ball was now with the UK parliament in London.

"At any case, there would be no additional negotiations about the exit accord," he tweeted.

Read more: Brexit deal: EU bids sad farewell to United Kingdom 

9:18 "Preparations for all scenarios will continue and be intensified, including the inauspicious scenario of a withdrawal without a deal on March 29," said Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

9:13 French President Emmanuel Macron told British leaders to "figure it out yourselves" and wished them "good luck" following the outcome of the UK vote on the deal.

He also said that some sort of a transition deal would need to be negotiated because "the British cannot afford to no longer have planes taking off or landing at home, and their supermarkets, as much as 70 percent, are supplied by continental Europe."

9:00  "Please, please, please tell us finally what you want to achieve," urged German conservative Manfred Weber, the leader of the center-right bloc in the EU parliament, addressing the UK authorities. 

Read more: Brexit vote defeat increases no-deal fears for UK car industry

Watch video 02:23

UK Parliament rejects May's Brexit deal by record margin

8:52 The EU would "respond favorably" if the UK agreed to change its "red lines" for the exit talks, says the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier.

8:48 EU Council president Donald Tusk seemed to hint that the UK should cancel Brexit.

"If a deal is impossible, and no one wants no deal, then who will finally have the courage to say what the only positive solution is?" he tweeted.

8:38 Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that the EU was "preparing for all scenarios."

"Despite this setback, it does not mean we are in a no-deal situation," he said.

8:32 EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker desribed that the agreement negotiated with Theresa May had been "the best possible deal." He also urged the UK to clarify their intentions as soon as possible.

"Time is almost up," he posted on Twitter.

8:31 The UK could still hold a second referendum that would allow it to stay in the EU, He Economy Commissioner Pierre Moscovici told France 2 TV channel.

He also warned that "no-one wants a 'no-deal' Brexit, but we are getting close to this."

8:29 Germany's Economy Minister Peter Altmeier says that no-one wanted "chaos", but there would be no major changes to the deal between UK Prime Minister Theresa May and the EU.

"The substance of the deal is non-negotiable", he told the German public broadcaster ZDF.

8:14 The UK parliament should decide on the way forward after nixing Brexit deal, Germany's top diplomat Heiko Maas said on Wednesday.

"We need a solution and we need it quickly" he told the public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk. "And the time for playing games is now over."

8:00 Hello there! Welcome to DW's rolling coverage of British parliament's refusal of the Withdrawal Agreement, a draft accord that British Prime Minister Theresa May had secured with the EU providing for an orderly withdrawal from the Union. However, that has all been thrown in the air now. Follow us for the latest from the UK and across Europe.

Every evening, DW's editors send out a selection of the day's hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.

Watch video 02:47

Ifo institute suggests 'Swiss model' for post-Brexit Britain

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