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UK's May takes Brexit renegotiation to EU

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UK's May takes Brexit renegotiation to EU

UK's May takes Brexit renegotiation to EU

British Prime Minister Theresa May was back in Brussels on Thursday - with plans to press her EU counterparts for solid changes to her Brexit divorce deal.

Lauren Anthony reports.


UK's May takes Brexit renegotiation to EU

The British Prime Minister didn't receive the warmest welcome when she met with EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday (February 7), but it seems she made some progress.

The bloc has promised to work with Theresa May on "a way through" the Brexit turmoil to prevent a disorderly divorce - but the European Union underscored that it will not reopen the Withdrawal Agreement that Britain sealed last year.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) EUROPEAN COMMISSION SPOKESMAN, MARGARITIS SCHINAS, SAYING: "The discussion was robust but constructive." May's frosty welcome was hardly surprising after the EU summit chair refused to mince his words on Wednesday (February 6).

(SOUNDBITE) (English) PRESIDENT OF THE EUROPEAN COUNCIL, DONALD TUSK, SAYING: "I've been wondering what that special place in hell looks like for those who promoted Brexit without even a sketch of a plan how to carry it safely." A blunt display of frustration in Brussels that drew condemnation from many in Britain.

Theresa May's original agreement was rejected by the biggest majority in modern British history last month.

The main stumbling block is the Northern Irish backstop - an insurance policy to avoid a hard border that requires some EU rules to operate in the British-ruled province unless another way can be agreed.

On Thursday (February 7) the European Parliament said May reassured the EU that there will be a backstop.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on Wednesday released a letter setting out five conditions for his party to support a deal.

Points that included a "permanent and comprehensive UK-wide customs union" which May has ruled out.

May will return to parliament next week for another debate.

But a crunch vote on approving the Brexit deal is likely to come later in the month, edging ever closer to the March 29th deadline.

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