Brexit: Barnier warns UK there is ‘no going back’ on deal

European Parliament approves motion allowing Brexit talks

British prime minister Theresa May has confirmed that both the House of Lords and House of Commons will vote on the final Brexit deal. Video: Parliament TV


The European Parliament urged European Union leaders on Wednesday to allow the next phase of EU negotiations to start, backing a motion that recognised the talks had made sufficient progress as a well a line criticising Britain’s Brexit negotiator David Davis.

Earlier on Wednesday, the EU’s chief negotiator told MEPs that Britain could not renege on commitments made to ensure Brexit talks with the European Union move on to discussions on the future relationship between the two.

European Union leaders are almost certain to judge on Friday that “sufficient progress” has been made on the rights of citizens, the Brexit divorce bill and the Irish Border to allow negotiations to move to the next phase. The EU executive recommended last week that the leaders approve trade talks.

The European Parliament will have to approve any Brexit deal, although its motion on Wednesday was not binding.

The agreement, presented in a joint report last Friday, was in the view of some in Brussels, undermined by Brexit minister David Davis’s comment that it was more “a statement of intent” than a legally binding. Mr Davis has subsequently said he wants the accord swiftly translated into a legal text.

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“We will not accept any going back on this joint report. This progress has been agreed and will be rapidly translated into a withdrawal accord that is legally binding in all three areas and on some others that remain to be negotiated,” EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier told EU lawmakers.

Former UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage in the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday. Photograph: Jean-Francois Badias/AP
Former UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage in the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday. Photograph: Jean-Francois Badias/AP

Mr Barnier said a lot more further steps were required to secure an orderly withdrawal.

“We are not at the end of the road, neither regarding citizens’ rights nor for the other subjects of the orderly withdrawal. We remain vigilant,” he said.

Mr Barnier said the next phase of talks would focus on a “short and defined” transition period and initial discussions on a future relationship, which he stressed would not erode the EU single market and its four freedoms, including free movement of people.

Nigel Farage of the anti-EU UKIP party called British prime minister Theresa May “Theresa the appeaser” and said she had yielded on virtually everything.

Meanwhile, flagship Brexit legislation has returned to the House of Commons in London with the British Government seeking to appease would-be Tory rebels who could inflict a first defeat.

MPs have resumed their line-by-line assessment of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, which seeks to transfer European law into British law, for a seventh day. Conservative former attorney general Dominic Grieve’s so-called “meaningful vote” amendment to the Bill is signed by nine party colleagues. Mr Grieve wants the Bill amended to require any final Brexit deal to be approved by a separate act of Parliament before it could be implemented. It seeks to make changes to clause nine of the Bill, which provides the Government with the power to use secondary legislation to implement any Brexit deal — which would require less scrutiny from MPs.

Brexit Secretary David Davis and Theresa May have attempted to offer guarantees to those Tories who may rebel, which could number up to 20, over the timing and importance of planned votes on the Brexit deal. - PA, Reuters