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Brexit: European leaders reneged on promise to help Theresa May

17 Décembre 2018

British Prime Minister Theresa May survived a brush with political mortality on Wednesday, winning a no-confidence vote by Conservative lawmakers that would have ended her leadership of party and country.

"That might include an addendum to the Withdrawal Agreement that sets out that Parliament will vote prior to going into a backstop, should that prove necessary, and potentially that the EU Parliament and UK Parliament must vote every year thereafter to provide that legitimacy for the UK to stay in the backstop, should that prove necessary", she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

The backstop is an insurance clause obliging Britain to follow European Union trade regulations until a better way is found to avoid a "hard border" between Britain's Northern Ireland and European Union member Ireland.

The besieged Prime Minister returned from a whirlwind tour of The Hague, Berlin and Brussels where she had been begging for further concessions on her Brexit deal to rush straight to Number 10 as Tory Brexiteers rounded up the required 48 letters to force a ballot that could end the PM's time as leader. Many diplomats expect further high-stakes talks in the new year.

"If you take a step back it is clear that this House faces a much more fundamental question - does this House want to deliver Brexit?".

May asked for political and legal assurances that the so-called Northern Irish backstop would be temporary, and urged the leaders to look at her track record of delivering results even when the odds looked stacked against her.

It was not immediately clear which further talks she was referring to, as the European Union leaders had cut a clause from a draft declaration that would have promised "further assurances" on the border issue.

But a very narrow victory would be so damaging to her already tattered authority Brexiteers are confident she would have to resign.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and others ruled out any reopening of last month's treaty aimed at easing Britain out of the bloc on March 29.

It comes days after Mrs May postponed a vote to approve the divorce deal to avoid all-but-certain defeat. If she cannot turn that around, Britain could crash out chaotically into legal limbo.

Juncker said May was "a good friend, and I am admiring her, because this is a woman of great courage doing her job in the best way possible".

Opposition to the deal in Britain is focused on a so-called "backstop" arrangement created to keep the border with Ireland open unless and until a new UK-EU trade deal is signed. They argue that it undermines the country's sovereignty and nullifies the objective of leaving the EU. Ms. Both sides hope the backstop will never be needed: The agreement gives them until 2022 to reach a permanent new trade deal that could render it unnecessary.

Earlier in the day, Mr Juncker told the European Parliament that there was "no room whatsoever for renegotiation" of the Withdrawal Agreement reached between the EU and United Kingdom last month.

"To use a Christmas theme, we want all parties and factions in the British parliament to feel the bleak midwinter", said a senior European Union source. "We often find ourselves in a nebulous, vague debate and it is time we got clarity". "We are ready to be convinced", the diplomat said.

Pro-EU lawmakers hate it too, because it leaves Britain subject to rules it has no say in making - an inferior position to remaining in the bloc, they say.

The common budget will aim at assisting or stabilising countries hit by an economic shock but Germany, one of EU's most powerful member, disagreed with such a reform.

Speaking moments after the result was announced, Jacob Rees-Mogg called on Mrs May to resign as party leader, describing the 117 MPs who voted against her as a significant number that can not be ignored.

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May confirms she will quit before the next election, scheduled for 2022.

Brexit: European leaders reneged on promise to help Theresa May