Sun | Jul 25, 2021

EU playing games over Brexit – officials

Published:Sunday | March 10, 2019 | 12:00 AM
The flag of the European Union and the British national flags are flown on poles during a demonstration by remain in the EU outside spporters the Palace of Westminster in London, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. British Prime Minister Theresa May says she will give British lawmakers a choice of approving her divorce agreement, leaving the EU March 29 without a deal or asking to delay Brexit by up to three months. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May gives a speech in Grimsby, north east England on Friday, March 8, 2019. British lawmakers are due to vote for a second time Tuesday on the deal, which they overwhelmingly rejected in January.


With tensions escalating, Britain’s House of Commons leader said Saturday that European Union (EU) ­officials need to take seriously British ­proposals for ending the Brexit impasse before a crucial vote in Parliament.

Andrea Leadsom said EU leaders are wrongly ­accusing Britain of failing to put forward detailed proposals, while offering proposed solutions that Britain had rejected months ago because they would threaten ties to Northern Ireland.

She told BBC she finds it “extraordinary” that EU leaders are being so intransigent and said she is asking herself what “games” the bloc is playing.

Leadsom said the EU is pushing Britain toward a ‘no-deal’ Brexit that would, paradoxically, make it much harder to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, which both sides say they are trying to prevent.

Her harsh words and Britain’s immediate rejection of a proposal offered Friday by top EU negotiator Michel Barnier signal exasperation as the days ­dwindle before a make-or-break vote Tuesday in Britain’s Parliament on a deeply unpopular withdrawal plan.

The long-promised “meaningful vote” on the 585-page withdrawal agreement will signal whether Prime Minister Theresa May has managed to win over Parliament after a shocking loss by a 230-vote margin on the same proposal in January.

May needs something substantive to show from ongoing crisis talks with the EU taking place this weekend if she is to have any hope of victory for her signature legislation.

The chairman of Britain’s Conservative Party Saturday urged Parliament to back the bill or risk seeing the entire Brexit process reversed.

Brandon Lewis warned recalcitrant ­lawmakers, including many in his own party, that if the ­government’s withdrawal plan is voted down, it is ­possible Britain will end up staying in the EU despite the 2016 referendum in favour of severing ties to the EU.