Juncker: Brexit ‘clarifications’ but no renegotiation

Juncker refused to speculate about what the EU would do in response to such a defeat of Theresa May's deal | Alastair Grant/AFP via Getty Images

Juncker: Brexit ‘clarifications’ but no renegotiation

The Commission president refuses to be drawn on how the EU would respond if the House of Commons rejects the deal.

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1/11/19, 10:43 AM CET

Updated 1/11/19, 4:04 PM CET

BUCHAREST — Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the EU is in discussions with the U.K. government about “clarifications” over the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement but he reiterated the bloc’s unwillingness to renegotiate the deal.

It seems almost certain the House of Commons will reject the deal negotiated by U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May in a ratification vote on Tuesday, but Juncker refused to speculate about what the EU would do in response to such a defeat.

“All I can say is that I am not going to go into speculation and a guessing game,” Juncker said in Bucharest, at a news conference with President Klaus Iohannis during a trip to the formal opening of Romania’s first presidency of the Council of the European Union.

“What we have said very clearly in the European Council and the Commission with full harmony of views, is there cannot be renegotiation, there can be clarification,” Juncker said. “We are discussing with Downing Street what these clarifications might amount to.” But he added quickly, “That should not be confused with renegotiation particularly as regards to the backstop.”

The Northern Ireland backstop is designed to avoid a hard border and hence protect the Good Friday peace agreement.

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