Looks like the EU Brexit negotiating team hasn’t come back from the Christmas break feeling more festive and charitable. Today, a spokeswoman for the European Union has said that there will be no further meetings on the Brexit deal – a huge blow to Theresa May who still needs to find a way to convince British MPs to vote for her deal.
Spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said at a press conference in Brussels this morning:
“We have said many times the deal that is on the table is the best and only deal possible. And the EU27 leaders confirmed on December 13 in their conclusions that it will not be renegotiated… We are not renegotiating what is on the table, our solutions are on the table, we are ready to listen but at this stage there are no further meetings and the EU 27 leaders have been very clear that it will not be renegotiated, what is on the table.”
An EU source also said that nothing has happened regarding Brexit over the last ten days, despite May speaking with Donald Tusk on Wednesday and Angela Merkel twice over Christmas. That means Mrs. May has made essentially no progress on renegotiating her deal. The only thing that has changed with her withdrawal agreement is that even more time has passed by. MPs are truly being put to the test – will they risk the No Deal Brexit they’re terrified of, or will they vote in favour of May’s unchanged, botched deal?
The EU is playing a risky game by flat out refusing to renegotiate, though. At this point, they must be betting on MPs being too afraid of No Deal. If they can get May’s deal passed without any changes, the EU won’t lose out on the £39 billion we’ve promised and they won’t be hit with trade problems that would unquestionably be more complicated for them than us.
In fact, former Brexit Secretary David Davis has today urged Theresa May to delay her meaningful vote even further, in order to put more pressure on the European Union and Members of Parliament. The vote is expected to take place in the week beginning 14th January, with a deadline of the 21st January – but Davis said in The Daily Telegraph that it could be further delayed if the parliamentary arithmetic still doesn’t add up for the Prime Minister’s deal. He even suggested that the EU would get back to the negotiation table and offer a better deal if it looked like the UK was on the verge of “crashing out” without a deal.
This is a giant game of chicken, and No Deal is a real possibility at this point.