Theresa May hits out at Juncker insisting her Brexit plans are 'crystal clear'

Theresa May hits out at Juncker insisting her Brexit plans are 'crystal clear'

The PM is in Brussels where she has been lobbying European chiefs to change the hated backstop which looks set to doom the deal.

But the leaders ended up taking a harder line than before after hearing from Mrs May last night.

They are apparently playing hardball because they believe that if the deal is vetoed by Parliament, a second referendum is more likely than No Deal.

Tony Blair has been egging the EU on today, telling them they should prepare for Brexit to be delayed and then cancelled.

This morning the PM was seen snapping at top Eurocrat Jean-Claude Juncker after he dismissed her pleas.

Mrs May flew to Brussels yesterday for the European Council summit after scraping through a vote of confidence from her own MPs.

She is seeking changes to the backstop – designed to keep the Irish border open – to ensure Britain doesn't end up trapped in the EU customs union.

A draft version of the summit's conclusions provided a glimmer of hope for the PM, stating that the backstop "does not represent a desirable outcome" for the EU.

It added: "The Union stands ready to examine whether any further assurance can be provided."

But after Mrs May made her pitch to the other 27 leaders, they changed the text to remove both of the helpful statements.

Instead, the final version calls on EU states to step up No Deal planning.

Belgian leader Charles Michel said this morning: "We have to tell the truth – my impression is that we have to speed up preparations for a No Deal."

The PM has warned Brussels that if they don't give ground, the Commons will trash her deal and Britain will crash out without any deal in March.

But several senior European politicians have sugggested they don't believe her – because it's more likely the UK will hold a second referendum and cancal Brexit altogether.

Yesterday Ireland's Leo Varadkar said: “It is within the gift of the UK Government and UK Parliament to take the threat of No Deal off the table by revoking Article 50 or seeking an extension of Article 50."

And this morning he added that he was "very satisfied" with the EU's decision to play hardball.

Today Mrs May holds a one-on-one meeting with Emmanuel Macron to try and convince him to budge.

After last night's talks, European Commission boss Mr Juncker said: "We don't want the UK to think there can be any form of renegotiation, that is crystal clear.

"We can add clarifications but no real changes. There will be no legally binding obligations imposed on the withdrawal treaty.

"Our UK friends need to say what they want, instead of asking us to say what we want."

Danish PM Lars Løkke Rasmussen claimed rebellious British MPs need to "get some homework done" before they oppose the current deal.

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This morning other leaders called for the Commons to back the deal as soon as possible – and appeared to rule out an emergency EU summit suggested for next month to approve a new text.

Romanian president Klaus Iohannis said: ""We need a positive vote from the British Parliament, not a summit."

Mrs May's deputy David Lidington insisted the PM has "a very clear plan" and claimed events in Brussels were "a welcome first step".

But critics in the UK attacked her from all sides and called on her to ditch the withdrawal agreement.

Tory rebel Simon Clarke said, "The writing was, sadly, on the wall in 20ft-high letters," adding that Mrs May should ramp up plans for No Deal from Monday.

DUP boss Arlene Foster blasted: "The reaction by the EU is unsurprising. They are doing what they always do. The key question is whether the PM will stand up to them or whether she will roll over as has happened previously."

Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: "PM has tried, credit to her for that, but, as expected, the EU is not open to renegotiation.

"It’s time to stop this pretence, bring the vote to Parliament and then, when the deal is rejected, seek to bring majority behind a second EU vote. Anything else now is just wasting time."

Mrs May will hold further talks in Brussels today before flying home later.

The Sun revealed last night that she is planning to hold the delayed vote on her Brexit deal on January 14.



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