Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel on Wednesday called on the British to be realistic in their wish to renegotiate the conditions of their withdrawal from the EU following Tuesday evening’s vote in the British parliament. Speaking on the sidelines of a Holocaust commemoration on Wednesday afternoon at the European Parliament, he warned that any change in the backstop solution for the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland was inconceivable.
“The backstop is not a theoretical matter, but an important point for the defence of the social and economic interests of the European Union,” Michel commented.
The British parliament on Tuesday evening approved two amendments to a draft Brexit deal that British Prime Minister negotiated last month with the EU 27. One of the amendments requires May to renegotiate the issue of the Irish backstop, which should avoid the re-establishment of a border between the two Irelands if a new trade deal is not worked out between the two sides.
However, European Council President Donald Tusk made it clear that there was no question of re-discussing the compromise reached last month, a position reiterated by Prime Minister Michel.
“The British need to be realistic,” Michel said. “We renegotiated a deal, and it’s a good deal, the best possible deal. I do not have the impression that it is realistic to believe that the twenty-seven other member States will stop defending Europe’s economic and social interests in the coming weeks.”