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  • British Prime Minister May (R) and European Union Council President Tusk during EU leaders summit to finalize the Brexit agreement in Brussels.

    British Prime Minister May (R) and European Union Council President Tusk during EU leaders summit to finalize the Brexit agreement in Brussels. | Photo: Reuters

Published 25 November 2018
Opinion

The European Union unanimously approved Theresa May's Brexit Deal. However, opposition parties at home will try to block it. 

European Union leaders unanimously approved Theresa May’s Brexit deal Sunday in an extraordinary summit in Brussels. The leaders later warned the British parliament to not wreck the deal as it is the best that the people of United Kingdom will get.

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“Those who think that, by rejecting the deal, they would get a better deal, will be disappointed,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told reporters.

The Brussel summit formally endorsed a treaty setting terms for British withdrawal in March and an outline of a future EU-UK trade pact.

“I will make the case for this deal with all my heart,” said U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May adding, “In any negotiation, you do not get everything you want.”

The 27 leaders took barely half an hour at a summit in Brussels to rubber-stamp the 600-page withdrawal treaty, aimed at an orderly exit on March 29 to be followed by two to three years of a status-quo transition period. The outline of a future trading and security partnership was just 26 pages long.

The next step for the Brexit deal falls in the hands of British Parliament which May said would be voting on the deal before Christmas. However, the opposition parties have been clear that they will not support the deal.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that the Brexit deal was a “staging post” towards Britain getting everything it wanted from leaving the EU, but that the arithmetic for getting the deal approved was looking “challenging”.

Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, which props up May’s minority government, has said it would try to block the deal because it binds London to many EU rules and the DUP fears it could weaken the province’s ties to Britain.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also said last week that the party will not vote in favor of May.

Britain’s 300-year-old naval base in Gibraltar on Spain’s southern coast had also threatened to derail plans.

After the summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel echoed that unwillingness to speculate on what she called a “historic day” that was both “tragic and sad”. But Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, whose country chairs EU meetings till the end of the year, said there could be no more negotiations.

French President Emmanuel Macron said Britain’s Brexit vote showed Europe needed reform. He stressed that Paris would hold Britain to tight EU regulations, in return for giving it easy trade access.

If the deal is passed by the U.K. parliament, it will go to the European Parliament to be finalized.

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