European Union leaders have ruled out British Prime Minister Theresa May’s attempt to renegotiate the terms of Britain’s exit from the bloc in March.
The British parliament Tuesday approved May’s request to the EU to re-work the Irish border provision of the current Brexit deal.
But the spokesman for European Council President Donald Tusk immediately ruled out any re-negotiation.
“The Withdrawal Agreement is and remains the best and only way to ensure an orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union,” the spokesman said. “We continue to urge the UK government to clarify its intentions with respect to the next steps as soon as possible.”
Britain’s House of Commons rejected May’s Brexit plans two weeks ago, primarily because of the Irish border provision, known as the backstop.
The backstop would keep Britain in a customs union with the EU in order to keep a free flow of goods between Ireland — an EU member — and Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK.
Backstop opponents who still support the idea of Brexit say it means Britain would still be subjected to EU rules, which is the reason they want Britain to leave the EU in the first place.
Without an agreement in place, Britain faces a “no-deal” Brexit departure.
U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told a congressional panel in Washington Tuesday that such an outcome “would cause economic disruptions that could substantially weaken the [United Kingdom] and Europe.”
Business leaders are worried that a no-deal Brexit would lead to economic chaos.
British opposition Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn said he believes the British government would have to delay its Brexit departure for three months to allow for more negotiations.
The pact defeated two weeks ago took British and EU negotiators 18 months to reach. Since then, May has pledged to go forward with the agreement and seek some changes to earn the necessary support.
May’s Conservative Party is now supporting what it calls “alternative arrangements” to overcome the concerns about tying Britain’s policies to EU rules.
What is not certain is whether those changes would be enough to win over a majority of parliament. There also is the question of whether the European Union would agree to alter the agreement, something its leaders have repeatedly said throughout the debate in Britain they have no intention of doing.