Robert Harneis –TDO- (FRANCE) - The leaders of the EU27 member states have approved the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration on the future relationship at a summit in Brussels yesterday. The leaders agreed a statement urging EU governments and institutions to ‘take the necessary steps to ensure that the agreement can enter into force on 30 March 2019, so as to provide for an orderly withdrawal.’

Criticisms that Mrs. May has conceded too much to the EU is confirmed by the extreme haste of the 27 to assure the world that there is no alternative. Jean Claude-Juncker, the President of the European Commission, said that the deal was ‘the best deal possible,’ adding, ‘the European Union will not change its fundamental position when it comes to this issue’ Elsewhere, Mark Rutte, the Dutch Prime Minister, said that there was no ‘plan B’ and that the deal was ‘the maximum’ that negotiators could achieve. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said the deal ‘will certainly not be renegotiated and there is no leeway,’ while Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said, ‘what’s on the table is the only deal that’s on the table.’ UK Prime Minister Theresa May also told reporters, ‘If people think somehow there’s another negotiation to be done, that’s not the case.’

The real challenge for the Prime Minister comes when she tries to introduce this deal on the floor of the House of Commons. At the moment it seems likely that MPs will not accept the deal as it stands. This would most likely lead to the replacement of Mrs. May as Prime Minister and Britain leaving the EU without a formal agreement – the sold called ‘no deal’. However, it is becoming clear that there are degrees of ‘no deal’ and that some minimal cooperation at least would be arrived for the sake of all parties. An example of this is arrangements for British lorries to pass easily through French Channel Ports. Xavier Bertrand, the President of the French Region concerned has made it clear that he is determined that there is as little disruption as possible for the sake of the local French economy.

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