Time and options running out for Theresa May’s Brexit talks

World Today

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May arrives to meet European Council President Donald Tusk at the European Council headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

As the Brexit deadline nears, options are running out for British Prime Minister Theresa May.

She spent the day in Brussels trying to renegotiate the Brexit agreement.

May has vowed to stay-the-course with Britain’s departure from the EU by the March 29 deadline. CGTN’s Miriam Zaidi reports.

Protesters ambushed her car on arrival in Brussels, as if she needed any reminder that there were only 50 days till Brexit.

Inside, both the EU and U.K. are locked in a stalemate over the Irish backstop. May’s mission here was to win legal changes to the withdrawal agreement.

“The PM described the context in the U.K. parliament and motivation behind last week’s vote in the House of Commons. Seeking a legally binding change to the terms of the backstop. She raised various options for dealing with these concerns,” EU Commission Spokesperson Margaritis Schinas said.

But, in a written joint statement following the meeting with Commission president Jean Claude Juncker, the EU reconfirmed, once again, the withdrawal agreement would not be reopened. But they were open to finding solutions.

May’s next meeting with EU parliament officials brought much the same.

“It is important that Mrs. May in the meeting assured us that there will be a backstop. That what she said already in Belfast – there is no question to remove the backstop. Because this is absolutely necessary for securing a safeguarding of the Good Friday agreement, safeguarding the internal market and peace process,” EU Parliament Brexit Coordinator Guy Verhofstadt said.

On Wednesday, EU Council President Donald Tusk caused a riot over his comments pondering what “the special place in hell looked like for those who promoted Brexit” and didn’t have much to say following his face-to-face with the British Prime Minister.

“I’ve set out very clearly the positions in parliament that we must have legally binding changes to the withdrawal agreement in order to deal with Parliament’s concerns over the backstop. What I see and hear from leaders is a desire for us to work together to ensure that we can deliver the U.K. leaving the European Union with a deal. My work is to deliver Brexit, to deliver it on time and I’m going to be negotiating hard in the coming days to do just that,” May said.

Whereas those in Brussels show little willing, perhaps German Chancellor Angela Merkel can provide hope for change. Speaking from Bratislava on Thursday she said she believes a solution to the Irish border issue can be reached in Brexit negotiations without reopening the Withdrawal Agreement.