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EU Rejects British Bid to Change Brexit Deal

By VOA News January 30, 2019

The European Union on Wednesday rebuffed Britain's efforts to renegotiate the terms of its exit from the EU.

British lawmakers voted Tuesday night to send Prime Minister Theresa May back to Brussels to try to get better terms for its planned March 29 divorce from the continent's 28-nation EU.

But European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told EU lawmakers that while he will listen to May's ideas about changing the pact that was agreed to late last year, it "remains the best and only deal possible.''

Juncker said, "The debate and votes in the House of Commons yesterday do not change that. The withdrawal agreement will not be negotiated."

He said it was unclear to him what Britain wants to renegotiate. British parliamentarians two weeks ago overwhelmingly rejected the pact May agreed to with the EU, leaving some fearing a "no-deal" Brexit in two months.

May said her government has not decided exactly how it will try to change the European Union divorce deal to address concerns about the passage of people and trade at the border between EU member Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of Britain.

U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told a congressional panel in Washington Tuesday that a no-deal Brexit "would cause economic disruptions that could substantially weaken the U.K. and Europe." Business leaders are also worried that a no-deal Brexit would lead to economic chaos.

Juncker said the EU "will work day and night" to ensure an orderly British exit from the EU. He said there remains possibilities outside the legal withdrawal agreement for further discussions between Britain and the EU.

A government spokesman said Germany said it understands the British Parliament's wish to "not to leave the EU without a withdrawal agreement." But Berlin said renegotiating a new pact "is not on the agenda."

Government spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters that Germany "took note" of British parliamentarians wanting more clarity on the Irish border question.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar also said there will not be a renegotiation of the Brexit withdrawal plan.

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