16 January 2019
The European Union should stand ready to help address concerns about the Withdrawal Agreement expressed by British MPs last night, MEPs have been told.
ECR Co-chairman Syed Kamall MEP told the European Parliament that the EU faced two choices following last night’s heavy defeat of the deal in the House of Commons Speaking in a specially convened Brexit debate in Strasbourg, he said a critical stage had been reached in the Brexit process.
He stated: “The EU has been very patient while the ball has been in the UK’s court. But I’m afraid that you will have to wait a little longer while the government faces the vote of confidence, which I expect it to win, and the Prime Minister holds cross party discussions to find a realistic way forward that can win the support of Parliament.
“At this point the EU will face a choice. You can do nothing and choose no deal or gamble that Brexit could be stopped Or you can attempt to address some of the concerns expressed.
“For example, by convincing UK MPs that you have no intention of keeping the UK in the customs union forever and that the backstop - if ever applied - would only be temporary.
“I understand if you see this as a lot to ask, given that you believe the UK has been offered a good deal.
“But just as in 2015, when a few tweaks to the renegotiation sought by David Cameron might have been enough to change the result of the referendum, I believe that it would be a great pity if no further efforts were made to try to reach an agreement that could help a British Prime Minister to forge a consensus at Westminster.”
Dr Kamall urged politicians to recognise the bigger picture. He said:
“We must never forget this is ultimately about people, not politics. Our decisions in the coming days and weeks will affect people’s jobs, the success of our companies and the growth of our economies.
“Monday’s letter from presidents Juncker and Tusk hinted at more flexibility. Let us see, when the Prime Minister comes back, if we can help turn that flexibility into concrete proposals to address concerns that led to last night’s result.”
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