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Debates
Wednesday, 16 January 2019 - Strasbourg Revised edition

8. The UK’s withdrawal from the EU (debate)
Video of the speeches
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  Presidente. – L’ordine del giorno reca la discussione sulle dichiarazioni del Consiglio e della Commissione sul recesso del Regno Unito dall'UE (2018/2970(RSP)).

 
  
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  Melania Ciot, President-in-Office of the Council. – Mr President, last November, the European Council endorsed the agreement on the withdrawal of the UK from the EU and Euratom. The European Council also approved the political declaration setting out the framework for the future relationship between the EU and the UK and restated the Union’s determination to have the closest possible partnership with the UK in the future. This outcome would not have been possible without the sense of unity, shared purpose and responsibility among the EU’s 27 Member States, as well as among the EU institutions.

Today, having just learned the outcome of the meaningful vote in Westminster, we cannot but regret this outcome. This makes a disorderly exit by the UK more likely. Such a scenario will have serious consequences for all of us, but in particular for the UK. Addressing those consequences will no doubt call for the same unity, shared purpose and responsibility among Member States and the EU institutions.

Given the many conflicting messages that have been conveyed in the UK before and during the debates leading to the vote, on all sides of the political spectrum, it is hard to single out one particular explanation of this outcome. This outcome is, of course, not the end of the game. While having been clear that renegotiation of the agreement is not on the cards, we should stand ready to act once the UK Government has clarified what this result means for the UK ratification process and what the next steps should be.

In the meantime, as repeatedly called for by the European Council in its invitation to the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council to take the necessary steps, we are continuing the ratification process in the EU. In this respect, I am pleased to mention that, last week, the Council adopted its decision on the signing of the agreement and approved its decision on its conclusion, as well as the request for the consent of Parliament.

Responsibility for ensuring UK ratification of the deal remains with the UK Government. Our determination to proceed should, however, be of comfort the UK Government in its effort to complete its part of the ratification process. However, the final result, in terms of both timing and content, is far from certain. We therefore have to continue our preparation for all outcomes, including a no—deal scenario. We do not want such a situation, but we will be properly prepared for it if it happens.

The preparedness and contingency dimension of Brexit should therefore assume greater importance at EU and national level, building on the solid work already under way. This, of course, means extra legislative work at this late stage of the parliamentary term but we are confident that the European Parliament will rise to the challenge in the interest of all the stakeholders. The Presidency, in any event, is determined, with your cooperation, to facilitate the adoption of the necessary contingency measures in good time.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the Commission. – Mr President, the vote last night in the House of Commons was crystal clear: the Withdrawal Agreement has been rejected and now we will have to look for a way forward. The Commission regrets the rejection of the Withdrawal Agreement, as the representative of the Council has said, because we do believe this was the best possible outcome in a situation where two parties were negotiating, each looking after its own interest.

The Commission negotiator, Michel Barnier, did a remarkable job negotiating on behalf of the 27, the British Government negotiated on behalf of the United Kingdom, and we do believe the outcome of that negotiation led to a withdrawal agreement which did as little harm as possible.

Nobody should be under any illusion: Brexit does harm. It does harm to the United Kingdom, it does harm to the European Union, and we are under an obligation as politicians to limit the harm to the absolute minimum possible, and we do believe the Withdrawal Agreement delivered on that obligation.

I think it’s not for us to speculate on what sort of Brexit we will have. We will now have to wait for what’s going to happen in the House of Commons in the United Kingdom, for the position of the British Government and the British Parliament, and we will have to take it from there, but, we’re also under an obligation to make sure that we are prepared for any possible outcome, including a disorganised no-deal Brexit, which would have far-reaching consequences both for the United Kingdom and for the European Union, but the Commission will be well prepared to make sure that we react to any possible outcome.

As the representative of the Council said, we will continue our process of ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement, since it was agreed with the United Kingdom Government. It is, and remains, in our view, the best possible outcome to ensure an orderly withdrawal.

Let me end with a quote by C. S. Lewis. We ‘can’t go back and change the beginning, but [we] can start where [we] are and change the ending’.

 
  
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  Michel Barnier, Chief Brexit negotiator. – Mr President, honourable Members, Secretary of State, the Commission takes note of the vote in the House of Commons last night.

As said by our Commission First Vice—President, Frans Timmermans, the House of Commons voted yesterday with a crystal-clear majority against the Withdrawal Agreement which the European Council agreed with the British Government in November, and which the European Parliament welcomed. Right now, it’s too early to assess all the consequences of this vote. We have always respected, and we continue to respect, the democratic parliamentary debate in the UK, and I will not speculate on the various scenarios.

What yesterday’s vote showed is that the political conditions for the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement are not yet there in London. We profoundly regret this vote, as President Juncker has said, and that regret is obviously also linked to the intense work we have done, not only together with you, honourable Members, with your Brexit Steering Group, for two years, but also with the British Government, on the basis of its ‘red lines’ and on the realities of leaving the EU.

Nous regrettons profondément ce vote, parce que nous avons construit cet accord de retrait ensemble, avec le gouvernement britannique, sur une base objective, en tenant compte des exigences partagées pour qu’il n’y ait pas de frontière en Irlande, en respectant le souhait britannique de préserver l’intégrité de son territoire douanier. Et nous avons développé ensemble, avec le gouvernement britannique, le cadre d’une future relation que l’Union européenne souhaite aussi proche et aussi ambitieuse que possible – et aussi proche et aussi ambitieuse que les lignes rouges britanniques le permettront.

Mesdames et Messieurs les députés, en écoutant les déclarations publiques, nous constatons que les députés de la Chambre des communes qui ont voté contre l’accord négocié avec nous l’ont fait, comme l’a rappelé votre président, pour des motivations très différentes, très diverses, parfois opposées ou même contradictoires. Ce vote, objectivement, n’est donc pas la manifestation claire d’une majorité positive qui définirait un projet alternatif à l’accord qui est aujourd’hui sur la table.

Dans ce contexte, il revient bien, comme l’a dit Frans Timmermans, aux autorités britanniques d’apporter aujourd’hui ou demain l’évaluation de ce vote et au gouvernement britannique d’indiquer comment il veut procéder en vue d’un retrait ordonné le 29 mars, ainsi que l’a rappelé hier soir le président du Conseil européen, Donald Tusk.

Monsieur le Président, Mesdames et Messieurs les députés, contrairement à ce qui a été dit parfois ces dernières semaines ou ces derniers jours, l’accord que nous avons trouvé avec le gouvernement britannique – cet accord de près de 600 pages – est un bon accord. Il est évidemment le résultat d’un compromis, mais c’est le meilleur compromis possible et nous y avons travaillé, encore une fois, avec objectivité.

Ce compromis apporte de la sécurité juridique partout où le Brexit a créé de l’incertitude, comme toute séparation. Sécurité pour les citoyens, les citoyens britanniques, les citoyens européens des vingt-sept autres États membres, dont les droits se trouveraient garantis durablement. Ces droits ont toujours été notre priorité, ont toujours été votre priorité ici au Parlement, et la protection de ces droits restera notre priorité en toute hypothèse.

Sécurité pour les porteurs de projets publics ou privés, tous les bénéficiaires du budget européen, qu’ils soient britanniques – ils sont nombreux – ou de chacun de nos vingt-sept autres États membres. Ces projets se trouveraient préservés grâce à l’accord qui est ici.

Sécurité et stabilité pour l’Irlande et l’Irlande du Nord, où le retour d’une frontière dure serait évitée grâce à une solution qui préserverait l’intégrité, d’un côté, du Royaume-Uni et, de l’autre, du marché unique, dans le respect, auquel nous avons souscrit, auquel nous nous sommes engagés, de l’accord du Vendredi saint ou accord de Belfast. C’est aussi pourquoi, Mesdames et Messieurs, le backstop que nous avons convenu avec le Royaume-Uni doit rester un backstop crédible.

The backstop must be a backstop. It must be credible.

Sécurité pour les entreprises et pour les administrations qui disposeraient d’une période de transition – dont je rappelle que la seule base juridique est bien l’accord de retrait –, transition durant laquelle elles auraient le temps nécessaire pour se préparer et pour s’adapter.

Ce compromis nous donne aussi, évidemment, avec cette transition, le temps nécessaire pour négocier notre future relation sur la base d’une déclaration politique que nous avons également convenue, du côté de l’Union, avec le gouvernement britannique. Cette déclaration politique, je le rappelle, laisse ouverte la voie à différentes options, tout en respectant nos principes fondamentaux.

Bien sûr, en toute hypothèse, je le rappelle, la ratification de cet accord de retrait est nécessaire. C’est un préalable pour créer la confiance mutuelle entre nous, dans la perspective de la deuxième négociation, qui doit s’ouvrir le plus tôt possible, sur notre relation future. S’agissant de cette relation future, qui est évidemment le plus important pour l’avenir, et pour l’avenir de notre continent, je veux rappeler que votre Parlement et le Conseil européen, unanimes, ont toujours dit que si le Royaume-Uni choisit de faire évoluer ses propres lignes rouges à l’avenir et qu’il fait le choix de plus d’ambition pour aller au-delà d’un simple – ce qui n’est pas négligeable – accord de libre-échange, alors l’Union européenne sera toujours immédiatement prête à accompagner cette évolution et à y répondre favorablement.

En évoquant cette relation future, Monsieur le Président, Mesdames et Messieurs, je ne parle pas seulement de la relation économique, du commerce, des échanges, qui sont tellement importants pour la croissance et pour l’emploi, je parle aussi de toutes les coopérations sectorielles auxquelles vos commissions sont évidemment attachées: la coopération universitaire et dans la recherche, dans la pêche, secteur très important, dans l’aviation, dans les transports, et bien d’autres choses encore. Je parle de la coopération policière et judiciaire, dont nous avons besoin après le Brexit. Je pense aussi, évidemment, à la stabilité de notre continent, à la sécurité: le Royaume-Uni, grand pays membre du Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies, pays ami et allié, restera durablement notre partenaire pour tout ce qui touche à la politique étrangère, au développement, à la coopération et à la coopération en matière de défense.

Mesdames et Messieurs, nous avons mené un travail collectif pendant 18 mois. Ce travail collectif a été validé à chaque moment clé par le gouvernement britannique, par le Conseil européen, par vous-mêmes dans ce Parlement européen. Aussi longtemps qu’une issue ne sera pas trouvée à l’impasse britannique actuelle, politique, aussi longtemps qu’une issue ne sera pas identifiée clairement et appuyée par une majorité parlementaire, nous ne serons pas en mesure d’avancer. Voilà pourquoi les prochaines étapes doivent à présent être, vous l’avez dit, indiquées clairement par le gouvernement britannique.

Monsieur le Président, Mesdames et Messieurs, un Brexit ordonné restera notre priorité absolue dans les semaines qui viennent. Pour autant, au moment où je vous parle, aucun scénario ne peut être exclu. C’est particulièrement vrai du scénario que nous avons toujours voulu éviter, celui d’un no deal: nous sommes le 16 janvier, à dix semaines seulement de la fin du mois de mars, c’est-à-dire du moment choisi par le gouvernement britannique pour que le Royaume-Uni devienne un pays tiers. Aujourd’hui, à dix semaines de ce moment, jamais le risque d’un no deal n’a paru aussi élevé.

Notre résolution reste d’éviter un tel scénario, mais nous avons aussi la responsabilité d’être lucides. C’est la raison pour laquelle, de notre côté, nous allons intensifier nos efforts pour être préparés à cette éventualité. Ce travail, la Commission européenne, tous ses services, le secrétariat général de la Commission, nous avons commencé à le mener depuis plusieurs mois, avec les États membres et avec vous. Ce travail va devoir être accéléré en liaison avec tous les partenaires, tous les acteurs qui pourraient être appelés, dans des délais maintenant très brefs, à adopter des mesures d’urgence pour faire face aux conséquences éventuelles de ce scénario.

Monsieur le Président, Mesdames et Messieurs, en vous remerciant pour votre confiance, je veux dire notre conviction, celle qu’a rappelée Frans Timmermans, que le compromis que nous avons trouvé au bout de 18 mois avec le gouvernement britannique demeure aujourd’hui le meilleur compromis possible. Il est le fruit d’un travail constructif entre les deux parties, tout au long de cette négociation. Il est aussi le résultat d’une attitude constructive qui restera la nôtre, la mienne, jusqu’au bout: le calme, l’unité, le dialogue et la transparence. C’est maintenant au gouvernement britannique de clarifier comment le Royaume-Uni veut procéder pour organiser le retrait ordonné qu’il a lui-même demandé, et comment, au-delà de ce retrait ordonné, il veut bâtir avec nous un partenariat ambitieux et durable.

(Applaudissements vifs et prolongés)

 
  
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  Le Président. – Monsieur Barnier, j’avais anticipé la confiance du Parlement européen. Elle est très claire à la fin de votre discours et je veux vous remercier.

 
  
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   And at the same time I want to thank our sitting group working hard close to Mr Barnier for a good solution to Brexit. I want to thank first of all the leader of our sitting group, Mr Verhofstadt, but also the other Members of the European Parliament working hard on this issue. Thank you very much.

 
  
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  Manfred Weber, on behalf of the PPE Group. – Mr President, four short remarks. First remark: I am proud. I am proud as a European, having in mind the comments after the Brexit vote two and a half years ago that a lot of speculation was on the table, that the European Union would experience a domino effect, that this would follow as the experience is so strong in Great Britain.

Having today’s situation in mind – the 27 Member States are so strongly united, the European Parliament is backing their positions, we know what we want. That the people in Europe feel the strength of unity of being a European Union – our Irish friends especially have this experience.

I think we can be proud of what we have achieved in the last month, thanks to Michel Barnier, thanks to his engagement, also to Jean-Claude Juncker. That’s good.

(Applause)

The second remark I want to make is that 28 governments said ‘yes’ to a Treaty, confirmed the Treaty; three institutions at European level said ‘yes’, that’s a good Treaty, and now one parliament has said ‘no’ with a clear majority.

That means for me that the ball is in the field of our British friends, and not so much on the governmental side, mainly on the parliament side. We have there a camp of hard Brexiteers, we have a camp of those who want to stay in the European Union, we have a camp of Norway—plus, a camp of CETA—plus, whatever; so please tell us, finally, what do you want to achieve? Give us a clear orientation and then Europe is ready to conclude the negotiations in a good way.

The third element I want to put on the table is: reflect again on our goals. We have a difficult political situation ahead of us now and we started with clear principles. For example for me, the idea of the single market and especially the idea of freedom of movement – that Europeans on this continent can freely decide where they want to live – is a great achievement of this European Union, and I did and I will defend this principle whatever the outcome of a British vote is and what will be.

And we have other elements in mind, for example, the idea of avoiding a hard border in Northern Ireland or the question of keeping the rights of citizens strong and alive. That’s why I must say that I don’t see any room for manoeuvre if our British friends want to have renegotiations, and if they have further requests in the negotiations then we have also the right to ask further questions and then we open the whole box – not only the British questions would be on the table if there were to be any kind of renegotiation.

So for me there is at the moment no room for manoeuvre in any renegotiations.

And the final statement I want to make is that I am traveling around Europe at the moment, as a candidate like we all do, and I see nobody in the European Union who thinks that the British approach is a clever approach. Nobody is telling me this. People in the European Union tell me more that they see political chaos and the economic uncertainty in the British development. That’s why our main message in the election campaign ahead of us is: don’t follow the nationalists, don’t follow the egoists, they are liars. It’s much better to reform the European Union than to leave or even destroy the European Union.

 
  
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  Roberto Gualtieri, on behalf of the S&D Group. – Mr President, after two months of postponement we now know the position of the British Parliament. An overwhelming majority voted against the Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration. This is a historic defeat for the Tory government and Prime Minister Theresa May.

We now know what the British Parliament does not want but, 70 days before the exit day, we don’t yet know what they do want. The parliament has also made clear last week that they reject a no—deal scenario. This is welcome because no deal would be the worst outcome for everybody, but especially for the UK. We make clear today, we will not water down the Withdrawal Agreement and put into question the credibility of the backstop.

Protecting the peace process in Northern Ireland, avoiding a hard border and safeguarding the integrity of the single market are not up for negotiations. Protecting the rights of EU and UK citizens has been our priority throughout the negotiations and we won’t accept any solution that threatens their rights.

The autonomy of the EU legal order, the safeguarding of our social, labour, environmental and taxation standards, the honouring of financial commitments, the balance of rights and obligations, none of these can be put into question. And we will not allow any temptation for bilateral solutions, which will not be beneficial for any of the parts involved. The unity between the institutions and within this Parliament in support of our chief negotiator is, and will remain, our greatest strength. We are united and we support you, Michel.

So where do we go from here? We need a positive majority from the UK side, and we need a clear direction and the capacity to deliver. Yesterday’s vote clearly shows that, at the moment, we do not have that. The majority supporting this government may tonight stick together to stay in power, but they have shown they cannot agree and deliver on the most important question facing the country. Either a positive and credible majority on Brexit takes shape in the parliament, or you need to put the question back to the people.

We have always been and will be open to a closer relationship if the UK wants to change its red lines. Permanent customs union and the single market were always options on the table. It was the UK Government’s red lines that made them impossible. A more ambitious future relationship would be positive for both sides, and we are ready to engage in it in a constructive way in full respect of our guidelines and red lines.

We have always said very clearly that we respect the outcome of the referendum, but we consider Brexit a historic mistake that would leave British people worse off. Article 50 is revocable and if the UK parliament is not able to define a credible way forward, maybe it is the right time for the people to have their say with new elections or a new referendum.

Our group is clear that, if an extension of Article 50 is needed to provide the necessary time for any of these options, then we would not object. But any extension must be for a clear reason and not just to waste more time. Brexit is at a deadlock, the ball is now in the UK’s court. It must show responsible leadership and a clear vision, which are needed to open new perspectives and charter its way out of these difficult waters. We will remain constructive and reliable partners working for the interests of the European citizens.

 
  
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  Syed Kamall, on behalf of the ECR Group. – Mr President, Mr Barnier, Mr Timmermans and Minister. I would first of all like to start by thanking both Mr Barnier and Mr Timmermans for their measured speeches this morning. I thought they were very fair, and people can’t really have much to complain about.

Let me speak today, as someone who has observed the debate about the UK’s membership of the EU from both sides of the Channel over the last few years, as someone who has regularly spoken to individuals on both sides of the negotiating table and at times suggested solutions to unlock some of those difficult issues, and as the leader of the ECR Group, that not only tells you what we are against, but offers alternative solutions.

Since becoming an MEP, one of the things that has struck me about the UK-EU relationship has been the gap in perceptions between both sides of the Channel. Many in this House believe strongly in the post-war 1950s model of political integration, while for the last 40 years in the UK, the political class has often sold the EU more as a trade area, often neglecting to mention or downplaying the goal of political integration.

The fact that politics is often about perception is equally true when looking at the withdrawal agreement. On this side of the Channel, the EU has been very clear – while they would not seek to punish the UK for leaving, they say that being outside the EU cannot be seen to be as good as being inside the EU. You in the EU have taken a tough stance in negotiations, not only because it is a good thing for negotiators to do, but also to make sure that any deal acts as a disincentive to other countries that might be thinking of leaving.

Most people in this Parliament are happy that these negotiations or these objectives have been met, but have also stressed to me that compromises have been made along the way. Some worry that the backstop could give an unfair advantage to UK companies accessing the single market. Others are concerned that it may affect the ability of the EU to conclude future trade deals with other countries, and they tell me that they hope that a backstop is never needed – a sentiment often repeated by speakers here.

Let me tell you that in Westminster, opponents of this deal see it very differently. There is, once again, a gap in perceptions. They see a withdrawal agreement with legal obligations that they believe could bind them to a customs union forever. They refer to briefings from Commission officials who have told the press that the customs union will form the basis of the future relationship. They see the text on the future agreement as a list of aspirations, with no legal obligations to move towards a future trade relationship or future relationships quickly. They are concerned that while the EU treaties have an exit clause in terms of the infamous Article 50, under the backstop they worry about being trapped in a customs union, possibly forever. Many of them quote the song Hotel California – you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.

They also believe that the agreement shows a lack of respect for unionists in Northern Ireland, and they feel it does not take account of the views of both the unionist and the Irish nationalist communities, as required under the Good Friday Agreement. They also ask me why we need a backstop at all, given that the Irish Prime Minister said that there will be no hard border in the event of no deal. For those Westminster opponents, many of whom are normally loyal and considered moderate, no deal is better than this deal.

But of course there are other reasons for the results of last night’s vote. As the official opposition, the Labour Party will seize every opportunity to seek to defeat the government, and, as you see, they’ve already called for a vote of no confidence. But then there are other politicians who think that the public was smart enough to vote for them, yet somehow too stupid to understand what they were voting for in the referendum. These MPs aim to disrupt the process in the hope that they can reverse the referendum result.

So as a consequence, today we find ourselves in a critical phase of the process. The EU has been very patient while the ball has been in UK’s court, but I’m afraid you’re going to have to wait a little longer while the government faces the vote of confidence, which I expect it to win, and the Prime Minister holds cross-party discussions to find a realistic way forward that can win the support of Parliament. At this point, the EU will face a choice: you can do nothing, and prepare for no deal; you can gamble that Brexit could somehow be stopped, or you can attempt to address some of the concerns expressed. For example, you could convince British MPs that you have no intention of keeping the UK in the customs union forever and that the backstop, if ever applied, would only be temporary.

I understand that you see this as a lot to ask, given that you believe the UK has been offered a good deal, but just as in 2015 when a few tweaks to the renegotiation sought by David Cameron might have been enough to change the result of the referendum, it would be a great pity if no further efforts were made to try to reach an agreement that could help the British Prime Minister to forge a consensus at Westminster.

We must never forget that this should be about people, not politics. Whatever our views, we should remember that our decisions in the coming days and weeks will affect people’s jobs, the success of companies and the growth of our economies.

Monday’s letter from President Juncker and President Tusk hinted at more flexibility. Let us see, when the Prime Minister comes back, if we can turn that flexibility into concrete proposals to address the concerns that arose in the lead-up to last night’s vote. Only then can we stop looking back at the past, move on from the present negotiations and look to build a more honest relationship for the future.

 
  
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  Guy Verhofstadt, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – Mr President, let’s be honest, we had hoped for another outcome, but we have known for a few weeks already that this would be the outcome of the vote, and the fact that the betting offices in Britain didn’t take bets on the outcome was already a clear indication of what would happen.

I have to tell you, I’m not so surprised, because, since the outcome of the referendum, British politics, in Downing Street, in Westminster, in Whitehall, has consistently produced majorities against something or other: against membership of the Union, against membership of the single market, against the Customs Union, against the free movement of people, against the Irish backstop … the list is long. In this debate this morning, Mr Kamall, the question is how to break the deadlock, and I had hoped you would give an indication in that regard. You described the situation in Britain, and we can follow it. But how do you break this deadlock? How do you avoid the devastating no-deal scenario?

My answer to that – and I hope you are in agreement with me – is that we need urgently a majority in favour of something, in the House of Commons and in British politics, a majority in the interest of Britain and in the interest of the Union too. And I think that can be achieved if, finally, the political parties in Britain – and I mean all political parties not just the Conservative Party – start to put the interest of the country, the interest of Britain, above their own narrow party political interests. That is the key.

(Applause)

Let me put it differently. That Jeremy Corbyn wants to become Prime Minister of his country is legitimate. That Theresa May wants to remain Prime Minister is legitimate. That the SNP wants to use the situation to have an independent Scotland is legitimate. That the DUP wants to keep the unity of the country is legitimate. All these ambitions that everybody has are legitimate. But what is more important is that they should all come out of the trenches now, that they should transcend the binary system in which they are currently locked, a system that has produced antagonism.

Let’s be honest: Brexit started as a catfight inside the Conservative Party on the back of the European Union. That was the start of the whole discussion. But today it is something completely different. It is no longer a catfight inside the Conservative Party, it is an existential problem for Britain, a problem of Britain’s future and Britain’s souls. So it’s not a catfight anymore. I know it’s not up to me as a humble Belgian to lecture the Brits on what to do, but I think it’s time now to tell our British friends that, for the sake of Britain itself, it’s time for cross-party cooperation in Britain, as we have had here in this Parliament from day one.

It is time to define what the new relationship between the UK and EU must be and to redefine, too, the red lines – that have, in fact, been imposed unilaterally from the beginning by what I will call the ‘hardliners’ in the Conservative Party. We in the European Union, I can tell you honestly, are ready for a deeper future relationship, even deeper than what is envisaged, Michel, in the Political Declaration, and you confirmed that a few minutes ago. And, if there is a cross-party majority in the House of Commons to go in the direction of a deeper relationship, we are ready to engage fully in order to obtain that and to make it happen.

But there are two small warnings that I want to give. First of all, what we will not let happen, deal or no deal, is that the controversy in British politics is now imported into European politics. While we understand that the UK can have, and needs, more time, I think it would be a bad thing to go with Article 50 beyond European election day. That would only prolong uncertainty for businesses and for people.

My second warning concerns the interests of our citizens, EU citizens and UK citizens alike. Deal or no deal, Mr President, we will do everything in our power to safeguard their rights – rights provided for in the Withdrawal Agreement – and, if necessary, together with our Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, we will engage directly with the House of Commons, with the Home Office Select Committee, to secure those rights, because no citizens should ever be the victims of party political games such as those we see around Brexit today.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Philippe Lamberts, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – Mr President, what we witnessed yesterday was an improbable coalition of Members of the British Parliament, who, for often opposing reasons, voted massively against something – that something being the Withdrawal Agreement – taking into account, first, the legal constraints set by the Good Friday Agreement – which, don’t forget, is a peace agreement – second, the red lines set by the British Government itself and, third, yes, the preservation of the foundations of the European Union and their integrity, is the only Withdrawal Agreement possible. We in the European Parliament stand firmly and staunchly behind that negotiated agreement, as Michel Barnier presented it.

My second point is that I’m encouraged to see that an amendment that was tabled – which basically amounted to creating the possibility for the United Kingdom to unilaterally get out of or breach the Good Friday Agreement – was massively rejected. I’m really encouraged to see that, on both sides of the Channel, there is determination to preserve the Good Friday Agreement. Do not underestimate the potential that any unilateral action in Northern Ireland could spark violence again and we don’t want this.

We have a vast majority against a Withdrawal Agreement and I understand that there’s a vast majority against a no—deal scenario. But make no mistake about that: a no—deal scenario is what will automatically happen by default if no positive majority can be found for an alternative, an alternative that would probably require the British authorities to reconsider their aspirations for the future relationship. If the House of Commons is either unwilling or unable to find such a positive majority, as a democrat, I believe that the only alternative will then be to ask the British people to choose whether they want Brexit along the lines negotiated both by the British Government and the –

(Heckling)

Dear colleagues, my understanding of British traditions is courtesy and fair play.

(Applause)

I’ve seen more than my fair share of interruptions by British MEPs here. I would basically expect British MEPs to stand by the values of their own country, and this is why I cherish the membership of the United Kingdom in the European Union because you can bring a lot to our Union. As I said, the only other option would be to go back to the British people to decide between Brexit, as negotiated, or to remain in the European Union.

Finally – and I will conclude there – there’s a lot being said in the discussion about the economy and business. I would urge all of us, on both sides of the Channel, to keep in mind the three million citizens of the European Union in the United Kingdom and the two million British citizens on this side of the Channel because they are held hostage by this ongoing chaos. This should remind us that democracy and politics are, and must remain, about people’s well—being.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Martina Anderson, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group. – Mr President, we support the backstop as the least damaging way forward but it can’t be watered down nor renegotiated.

Daily, the British Government shows contempt for the people of Ireland and a complete disregard for the Good Friday Agreement. The part of the British establishment that the DUP supports has always been opposed to the Good Friday Agreement. Some see Brexit as a way to get rid of it. No positive resolution for Ireland will ever come from a British parliament. It never has and it never will.

In contrast to the frustrating and infuriating circus at Westminster, the EU is committed to supporting the Good Friday Agreement in all of its parts. One vital aspect of the Good Friday Agreement presents a route out of this mess for Ireland and – Mr Verhofstadt – it is both legitimate and democratic.

It states that once the British Secretary of State considers that there has been demonstrable attitudinal change she will trigger a border poll on Irish unity. Well there has been demonstrable change. Theresa May knows that – she stated so publicly – as does Karen Bradley. The Irish Government needs to take more account of what the European Council statement of April 2017 stated, which was: ‘In the event of a successful democratic vote on Irish unity, the north of Ireland would remain part of the EU’. That was referred to as the ‘German clause’.

In the meantime Ireland needs a contingency plan to uphold the Good Friday Agreement in all of its parts. Supporting and preparing for the holding of a referendum on Irish unity has to be part of that.

So let’s de-dramatise that conversation. We are entitled to the right to decide our future without external interference. That’s a Good Friday Agreement provision. So let’s have our say on what Union we want to be a part of. James Connolly’s words grow in significance day by day. He said: ‘The British Government has no right in Ireland, never had any right in Ireland and never can have any right in Ireland’.

 
  
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  Nigel Farage, on behalf of the EFDD Group. – Mr President, ‘Your Excellency Mr Barnier, Your Excellency Mr Timmermans’ – these are the terms that the British Prime Minister used in her begging letter just a couple of days before the Brexit vote, and the fact that she actually use those terms is entirely consistent with the entire negotiation. I realised on 8 December 2017 where this was going when, in order to meet a deadline set by Mr Barnier, an unelected bureaucrat in Brussels, the Prime Minister left Downing Street at 4.15 in the morning to fly to meet you, and in the run-up to the deadline, she signed up to the principle of the Irish backstop. The pass was sold from that moment.

It has been throughout a total failure of leadership. But perhaps more significantly, she hasn’t learned or heeded the historical lesson that if you appease bullies, they always come back for more. She has behaved like a leader of a nation defeated in war, and that is why this Withdrawal Agreement looked more like a surrender document and it was smashed to pieces in the House of Commons last night. She of course believed that she’d get some concessions from you today, but it’s perfectly clear from what you’ve said that there are no concessions to come. She is still our Prime Minister, and that of itself is quite remarkable. If she had any sense of honour, she’d be gone by lunchtime today.

There are some here today, Mr Barnier, who say you have wasted two years of your life. I disagree completely, because you’ve got us now exactly where you want us, and that is despite the fact that 500 MPs voted for Article 50, which of course makes it very clear that there are two years in which to negotiate a withdrawal agreement, or we just leave. And that was backed up of course by the Act of Parliament, the Withdrawal Act, which once again says, unconditionally, that we leave on 29 March.

Mr President, you say there’s no support for no deal, but then you all thought there was no support for Brexit in the first place. You might be surprised how quickly public opinion is changing. Mr Timmermans, you say this would cause great harm, but if we leave on no deal, if we stick to the law as it is, we become an independent country. I would say to you: what price freedom?

I’d be the first to admit that I doubt this will happen, because working in cahoots with you we have Mr Blair and many other leaders of the British establishment who treat the Brexit vote, and treat voters in general, with total and utter contempt. There is a great tradition here, isn’t there – we’ve seen it with Denmark and with Ireland – where you make people vote again.

All I can say is that if we finish up with an extension of Article 50, we may well finish up fighting the next set of European elections, and we will fight them. If the betrayal becomes complete and we are forced to vote in a second referendum, you may be in for a big surprise. The British may be a very placid people, very laid back, but I promise you: if they get pushed too far, it’s a lion that will roar. We will be even more defiant if we have to fight a second referendum, and we will win it by a bigger majority.

(Applause from various quarters)

 
  
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  Gerard Batten, on behalf of the ENF Group. – Mr President, we’ve seen two and a half years of an elaborate political charade, based on an entirely false premise, which is that you can’t leave the European Union without a deal. There never was going to be a deal, there never is going to be a deal.

We’ve seen Ms May and her emissaries go back and forward to Brussels in order to reach a withdrawal agreement that nobody wants. The remainers don’t want it because they don’t want to leave. The leavers don’t want it because under it we don’t really leave. And what is the purpose of it all, which has now been extended? It is to wear the British people down to the extent where they accept defeat and surrender and the result of the referendum is overturned.

Not for the first time I found myself agreeing with something that Mr Verhofstadt said. He said, how to break the deadlock in the British parliament we need a majority in favour of something. Absolutely right Mr Verhofstadt, and in three days. Ms May has to come up with a plan B.

Well, the good news is, there is a plan B – which should have been plan A in the first place – which is to repeal the 1972 European Communities Act, leave the European Union under our law and then to tell you how we are going to repeal and amend 45 years and tens and tens of thousands of bits of legislation under our priorities and under our time-scales.

Now Ms May should immediately resign and hand over to somebody who can become prime minister who really does want to leave the European Union, and the British Parliament has the opportunity to redeem itself. If it betrays the result of the referendum then it will destroy what remaining belief or faith there is in our democratic system, which isn’t very high to start with.

But they can turn things around if they want to. They can take the initiative. They can stop asking you how we can leave and they can start telling you how we’re going to leave. And I can tell you that the British people will never surrender.

 
  
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  Diane Dodds (NI). – Mr President, thank you to those from the Commission and Council for their contributions. Last night in the House of Commons, MPs acted on behalf of the British people and decisively rejected the draft withdrawal agreement. In doing so, they defended the integrity of our precious Union, the constitutional position of Northern Ireland, the unity of the UK’s single market and the UK’s right to an independent future outside the European Union.

Already in this House this morning, there is some confusion around the legal position in the United Kingdom, much talk about delaying Article 50 or another referendum. Let me clarify: it is the legal position that the United Kingdom leaves on 29 March 2019. This is the one clear element of law within this whole conundrum. There has also been much focus on the backstop proposal, much ill—informed talk and threats of violence if Europe doesn’t get its way.

Again, I repeat in this House, we in the DUP do not want to see a hard border, but the intransigence of Dublin and EU leaders in this House in demanding the backstop leaves a no—deal option on the table.

By refusing to countenance legally viable changes to the draft withdrawal agreement, these institutions made the result of yesterday’s vote inevitable. All sides have said that there can be no hard border under any scenario. We should now direct our energy to a positive and beneficial negotiation on trade which minimises all frictions at all borders without the controversy of the backstop. Ultimately, this is where the answer has been all along, and it is where progress will be unlocked.

 
  
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  Elmar Brok (PPE). – Herr Präsident, Frau Ratspräsidentin, Herr Vizepräsident, lieber Michel Barnier, Kolleginnen und Kollegen! Ich glaube, in dieser Debatte – wie auch aus vielen Äußerungen aus Hauptstädten – wird deutlich, dass die Einheit der Europäischen Union in dieser Frage bestehen bleibt. 27 Länder und ihre Institutionen sind sich einig, in Großbritannien ist nichts an Einigkeit. Das ist das eigentliche Problem. Wir bleiben in unserer Einigkeit bestehen und werden die Integrität des Binnenmarktes und die Einheit dieser Europäischen Union verteidigen. Das ist unser Interesse.

Der zweite Punkt ist: Gestern hat sich eine Koalition der Gegensätze gefunden. Sie haben inhaltlich für eine Lösung nichts miteinander zu tun, die hard Brexiteers und die Remainers und all das, was dazwischen ist, die da Nein gesagt haben, weil sie andere Vorstellungen und Wünsche haben. Theresa May ist nach dieser Lage wohl nicht mehr in der Lage, eine konstruktive Lösung anzubieten. Jetzt, nach zwei Jahren, zu sagen, man werde mit der Opposition reden, scheint mir zwei Jahre zu spät zu sein. Ich glaube, es ist jetzt wichtig, dass aus dem Parlament heraus ein Vorschlag gemacht wird, dass aus dem britischen Parlament heraus eine konstruktive Lösung kommt, über die wir dann entsprechend reden können.

Und wenn beispielsweise Herr Corbyn gesagt hat, er möchte eine Zollunion haben, dann soll er diesen Vorschlag einbringen, eine Mehrheit dafür besorgen. Das wäre kein Problem für uns – unter den bestehenden Verhältnissen, dies möchte ich hinzufügen – und hier eine Lösung zu finden, das wäre uns sehr willkommen. Und wenn es da eine konstruktive Lösung gibt, dann sollte man das entsprechend machen.

Ich meine, es ist jetzt vorbei mit parteipolitischen und personellen Ambitionen in der britischen Politik, die es unmöglich gemacht haben, dass es in und zwischen Parteien eine Mehrheit gibt. Deswegen sollten wir jetzt warten, bis die Briten ihre Dinge zusammengebracht haben.

 
  
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  Josef Weidenholzer (S&D). – Mr President, this is a historic moment. As we know, history always comes as a surprise. When we started our mandate in 2014 nobody could have predicted such a debate today. Not even in 2016, when we discussed the unexpected outcome of the Brexit referendum. It took more than 900 days for the British Parliament to come to a meaningful decision. Months of uncertainty are behind us, and the result is clear, very clear. The future development is still not foreseeable at all.

Only one thing is certain: we are running out of time. Seventy days to go – this great nation is sleepwalking towards the edge of the cliff. Yesterday’s vote should be seen as a wake-up call.

We could start discussing accountability, bad governance or how a small self-centred elite was hijacking the country’s future for short-sighted reasons. It is evident that British Conservativism has dramatically failed.

But this is not the moment for insisting on being right, much less for revenge or retaliation. Now is the moment for responsible action in the interests of the many and not the few. The ordinary people of Britain would be the losers in a hard Brexit. We, the remaining 27 Member States, who stayed united over the negotiations, have to be flexible in breaking the deadlock and to provide pragmatic solutions to minimise the damage.

You can count on the Socialists & Democrats.

And we should not forget that over the last 40 years the UK has made a huge contribution to our common project. We will miss the expertise of our British colleagues, but life goes on and we have to deliver: therefore we need certainty on what the UK wants. We need a clear signal and a people’s vote undoubtedly could deliver this.

The British people should take back control and this time nobody could argue that the people did not know what they were voting for. We do not want to intervene in your domestic politics, but any decision you made to remain would be warmly welcomed.

140 colleagues joined me in an open letter to British citizens this week to make it clear to everyone that we want you to stay and we will welcome you back with open arms.

(Applause)

(The speaker declined to take a blue-card question from Bill Etheridge)

 
  
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  Alyn Smith (Verts/ALE). – Mr President, I feel for all the honourable Members having to put up with this nonsense and I do apologise for it, but it cannot have escaped your notice that the United Kingdom is, in fact, not overly united and is led by a Conservative administration that is less united still, sadly.

Now I represent Scotland. Our position is clear on these matters: we want to stay. We voted to stay, we want to remain within our family of nations.

(Applause)

Colleagues, you have to deal with the United Kingdom as you find it, and you have to respect the United Kingdom’s constitutional order. I respect that. But Scotland’s position on this is clear. There is no good Brexit. It’s bad news for Scotland; it’s bad news for the United Kingdom; and it’s bad news, as well, for the United Europe – the European Union.

My job is not to mitigate Brexit, it’s to stop it.

(Applause)

And I’m very proud that there are so many UK colleagues here working across party lines to bring sense to this process.

So, two points to close. Firstly, we need more time. I apologise for that, but that’s the reality of where we are. If you want to keep us in, we need more time to achieve that. A referendum may well be a way out of this process: we need more time to put that case together and to make that case now that the United Kingdom Government might just possibly be starting to listen to voices other than its own.

Secondly, citizens: too many people, the length and breadth of our European continent, are feeling too anxious right now – UK nationals across the EU and EU nationals within the UK. A lot of work on citizens’ rights has gone into the Withdrawal Agreement. Those provisions must be spun out into a ring-fenced agreement now, so as to give those people clarity and certainty over their day-to-day lives. They feel prisoners of a process they do not control and that is not good enough. We in this House, the people’s house of Europe, have a duty to our citizens. Our Commission has done a great deal of work to try to guarantee those rights but, in the absence of complete buy-in from the United Kingdom government, we must act – and unilaterally guarantee those citizens’ rights – now.

Those two steps might be a start to plot a way out of this impasse. I fear it will not come from Westminster: we ourselves need to step up.

(Applause)

 
  
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  President. – Mr Smith, there is a blue card for you. Do you want to answer it?

 
  
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  Alyn Smith (Verts/ALE). – May I ask who it is from?

(Laughter)

I will not give Mr Coburn any more oxygen than he deserves.

(The speaker declined to take a blue-card question from David Coburn)

(Loud applause)

 
  
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  Barbara Spinelli (GUE/NGL). – Signor Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, la prospettiva di un non-accordo sulla Brexit rappresenterebbe una lesione grave del Good Friday Agreement, su cui i cittadini nord irlandesi finiranno col pronunciarsi, ma anche per i cittadini europei nel Regno Unito e per gli inglesi che vivono nell'Unione, l'orizzonte è scuro.

L'assenza di un Withdrawal agreement li priverebbe di tutti i diritti legati alla libertà di movimento; dal limbo di questi anni passerebbero all'inferno dell'incertezza legale. Difficile dire come si potrà uscire da questa massiccia sconfessione della linea dell'esecutivo senza che il popolo sia di nuovo interpellato.

Comunque, se il No deal sarà confermato, Commissione e Parlamento dovranno fare di tutto per preservare almeno i diritti dei residenti inglesi, raccomandando l'allineamento delle procedure nazionali alle best practice già prospettate in alcuni paesi membri e garantendo loro il libero movimento nell'Unione.

Ben più grave il caso dei cittadini europei in Gran Bretagna, più di 3 milioni. Essi diverranno vittime, come già purtroppo i cittadini di paesi terzi, dell'ambiente ostile promosso dai Tories fin dal 2012. Le promesse di Theresa May potranno essere revocate d'un colpo dal parlamento inglese. Solo un trattato internazionale che salvaguardi i diritti iscritti nel Withdrawal agreement darebbe loro certezza giuridica.

Il cosiddetto ringfencing dei diritti è possibile se l'Unione, oltre a proteggere unilateralmente i residenti inglesi in Europa, condizionerà i negoziati sulle future relazioni a un preliminare accordo bilaterale Unione-Regno Unito, che preservi e migliori il capitolo sui diritti contenuto nel Withdrawal agreement. Anche per questo è importante e cruciale dare più tempo al Regno Unito.

Infine vorrei dire un grazie particolare, molto particolare al signor Barnier.

 
  
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  Janice Atkinson (ENF). – Mr President, the EU is sounding a bit desperate today, isn’t it? Shutting down debates … Carpe diem, Ms May.

Anyway, I would like to thank a few people, Mr Juncker and Mr Verhofstadt, for being the EU poster boys for Brexit. Keep it up lads!

I’d like to thank the 17.4 million Brexit voters who put ‘Great’ back into Britain and to remind the EU we are GB plc, we’re not a subsidiary of the EU Parliament.

Yet the largest plebiscite the UK has ever had is being betrayed. We have a Remain Prime Minister, we have a Remain cabinet and we have a Remain Opposition led by terrorist-supporting Marxist. What a choice!

But the 17.4 million people said we’re better than that, and they deserve better than that. Together with our greatest allies, the USA and our Commonwealth people, we can trade under World Trade Organisation rules. We can and we will put the ‘Great’ back into Britain, the country of Thatcher, Churchill and the 17.4 million brilliant Brexiteers. Together we will make Britain great again. We don’t need the EU. Let’s go out and make Britain great again in the great wide world.

(Mixed reactions)

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: MAIREAD McGUINNESS
Vice-President

 
  
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  Seán Kelly (PPE). – Madam President, the mind boggles with some of the things that are being said here today. Having said that, I just want to say that the vote in the House of Commons last night, though disappointing, was entirely predictable. But one thing is very clear: before the vote you sensed that the unity of the EU27 is to be admired. Thanks are due to Michel Barnier, who did a tremendous job, and to everybody involved. Ireland would like to express its gratitude for that.

I must take issue, though, with a comment made by Arlene  Foster yesterday when she said ‘There is no need for the backstop, as we never had a hard border’. My goodness, try telling that to those who were killed when they were crossing the border, who were subjected to searches by British soldiers, who saw the watchtowers, who were victims of the violence and, indeed, terrorist acts. I must say that this is not helpful, and because of that violence we had the Good Friday Agreement. And in fairness, and to give credit, to Theresa May, Michel Barnier and the EU as a whole, they did everything in the Withdrawal Agreement to ensure that the Good Friday Agreement would be observed in all its parts and that peace would continue on the island of Ireland.

I want to say as well, though, to my colleague Martina Anderson, that this is not the time to be calling for a referendum on Irish unity. It’s not the Irish Government’s position. It’s not what the Irish people want. Even though we aspire to a united Ireland, we know that to be calling for it at this time is divisive and that is not what we want.

The big worry now for most people is that there will be no deal, that the United Kingdom will crash out of the European Union, and preparations are in place in case that is the outcome. But I think it’s important for the United Kingdom to make a decision that that is not what it wants. I have no doubt that the good people of the United Kingdom do not want that scenario, and if given the opportunity they would say so. While clarifications might be needed from Brussels regarding the Withdrawal Agreement, the sensible thing, I think, would be to consult those who actually voted for Brexit in the first place – the British people – and ask them ‘Is this really what you want?’. I think they will say emphatically ‘No’.

 
  
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  Seb Dance (S&D). – Madam President, let’s be clear about the process that got us here. Governing in the interests of the Conservative Party, and the Conservative Party alone – and not even being very good at that – has got us to this situation and we very firmly believe that this government has had its day. But that is, of course, a discussion that has to take place in the UK.

Whichever party is in power, they will find themselves – when it comes to Brexit – faced with this choice. You either move away from the EU structures and destroy jobs, destroy life chances, reduce workers’ rights and environmental protections or you stay within the structures of the EU and lose all say and power over what those structures are. That is the fundamental and unavoidable choice when it comes to Brexit. Neither of those things is right for any country and certainly not the United Kingdom.

But I want to give you here a message of hope: in Britain – thanks to the people opposite and their ludicrosity – we have now got the biggest pro—European movement on the continent. We have millions and millions of people who are prepared now to go out there and defend the values of this place, to talk about in open terms about why we are proud of what the European Union has achieved, and will achieve. We will defend free movement, we will defend what the structures of this place have given not just the current generation, but generations to come. The nonsense and fantasies of the people opposite have been found out.

There is no majority in the British Parliament for no deal but, whether there is a new government, whether there is a new referendum or whether or not Parliament has a majority for some other way forward, we must recognise that we might need more time. Please do not let the logistics of this defeat the politics of this. We have a chance to turn this around and we need your support and your friendship.

 
  
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  Molly Scott Cato (Verts/ALE). – Madam President, I watched last night’s historic Westminster vote here in Strasbourg with my colleagues from across our continent who are deeply concerned about Britain’s Brexit crisis. Many still hope that we will find a way to stay with you all. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support.

Brexit is a failure of leadership. Theresa May has failed to lead the country and instead has responded only to the needs of her own party. Jeremy Corbyn has failed in his constitutional duty of opposing Brexit, leaving half the country in frustration and despair. But Brexit is also a failure of solidarity. Older generations have ignored the hopes and dreams of our young people. Too many British people have forgotten about other EU citizens who are a vital part of our communities, or their fellow citizens who live elsewhere in the EU. So many have had their hearts broken and their lives turned upside down by this process. Now that the complexity and the cost of Brexit are clear, we have a democratic right to say whether it is still what we want for our country. With Westminster in gridlock, it is only right that the decision goes back to the people.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Esteban González Pons (PPE). – Madam President, after yesterday’s vote in Westminster only one thing is clear: the Commons rejected the agreement that their Government signed but they don’t know what they want. We had majorities for two negative votes but not a majority for a positive one.

After months of illusions, false hopes and lies, it’s time for the British Parliament to accept the truth. Brexit is not a European problem. It is a British one. So please find a solution.

Everybody wants to have the best possible relationship with the United Kingdom, but not at any price. We are friends and allies but what Britain cannot expect from us is to re-try our principles. There is one simple reason for that: being a member of the European Union is not an economic decision, but a life choice. We are a community of shared values based on the rule of law and treaties. It is not a transactional relationship. The British Government created this problem and the British Government must solve it.

We at the European Parliament are ready to sign the agreement when it comes to us, but we are also ready to move on without it.

Until yesterday, we thought Brexit was the reaction to a European crisis. Today we know it was the reaction to a national British crisis. Yesterday it became clear: there is no majority for a Brexit with a deal, and there is no majority for a Brexit with no deal. So the most sensible thing to do would be to keep calm and carry on.

To Mr Farage, wherever he is, I would say, with all due respect, please be very careful in using the word ‘war’, because there was indeed a war and, thank God, the British won it. Everybody learned their lesson, but perhaps not Mr Farage.

(Applause)

(The speaker declined to take a blue-card question from Bill Etheridge)

 
  
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  Esther de Lange (PPE). – Madam President, I have to say that watching yesterday’s debate in the House of Commons – a parliament, which, due to its tradition and history we hugely respect – I couldn’t help but think ‘Boy! Collectively they don’t know what they want, but boy do they hold great speeches about it!’ A bit like Mr Farage, actually, who, even in this debate of just an hour-and-a-half about Brexit – Brexit, mind you, his raison d’être – can’t be bothered to remain in this Chamber.

(Applause)

He made his speech, probably put it on YouTube, and left the room. That is what he always does.

But I have to hand it to Mr Farage, he does know what he wants. What he wants is the hardest no-deal Brexit possible, only for his buddies then afterwards to dismantle the NHS, to destroy ordinary people’s jobs and to create a bankers’ paradise uncontrolled.

(Applause)

Listening then to the debate in this House, in this European Parliament, what I hear from colleagues is ‘Please let’s sit down and look at what we can agree in terms of creating a majority and finding a solution.’ Mr Corbyn says he would prefer a customs union. Why doesn’t anyone put forward an amendment in the House of Commons that actually says that, and see how far we can get?

If, regrettably, the British leave, a customs union would be the best solution, in order to keep jobs on both sides of the water and actually find a workable solution. We went into politics, colleagues, here and in Westminster, not only to give speeches but to sit down, create majorities and find solutions. Let’s get to work.

(Applause)

 
  
 

Catch-the-eye procedure

 
  
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  Georgios Kyrtsos (PPE). – Madam President, our British friends are in a state of political confusion as far as Brexit is concerned. We should respond with a creative approach. First, we should offer the British more time to make up their minds. Second, if they decide against a hard Brexit and are reconciled with the idea of participating in the Customs Union, or even in the single market, we should accommodate them. After all, we too made serious mistakes, which led the British people to vote in favour of Brexit.

The European Union badly needs the United Kingdom and it seems to me that it becomes obvious every day that the United Kingdom also needs the European Union.

 
  
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  Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D). – Señora presidenta, una mayoría negativa, que es la suma de muchos noes, ha sumido al Reino Unido en un largo túnel de confusión, incertidumbre y crispación del que la sociedad británica sale más dividida que nunca sobre su propia pluralidad política, social, territorial y generacional.

Y no corresponde a este Parlamento Europeo discutir infinitamente sobre el artículo aplicable para que la sociedad británica encuentre su salida del laberinto que ha causado un uso desdichado del referéndum, que otro referéndum con un debate informado podría enmendar.

Sí que nos corresponde expresar apoyo y reconocimiento a los millones de británicos que han resistido con coraje la mentira y la demagogia nacionalista y populista. Y, por supuesto, apoyar, señor Barnier, la unidad negociadora de la Unión Europea con un mensaje tranquilizador, con un mensaje garante y comprensible para todos los ciudadanos, las personas que más temen el impacto de la inseguridad y de la incertidumbre en sus vidas.

 
  
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  Marek Jurek (ECR). – Pani Przewodnicząca! Kryzys demokracji europejskiej widzieliśmy na tej sali. Tyle razy słyszymy o pluralizmie i dialogu, a za każdym razem, kiedy koledzy chcieli zadać pytanie, słyszeli twarde „nie” – żadnego dialogu, żadnej rozmowy itd. No, ale powiedzmy, że my jesteśmy reprezentatywnym, ale jednak małym kolegium, a Europa patrzy szerzej. Ten kryzys widzimy dzisiaj wszędzie. W Niemczech rekordowo niskie od 70 lat wyniki dwóch głównych partii politycznych zmieniających się u władzy albo rządzących razem. We Francji – rekordowo niska frekwencja w wyborach parlamentarnych, mimo prezydenta, którego podziwia cała Europa oprócz francuskiej ulicy. Również referendum brytyjskiego nie zrozumieliśmy.

Jeżeli naprawdę chcemy obronić współpracę europejską, jeżeli chcemy, żeby Europa współpracowała, czas zmienić tę politykę, politykę, która przestraszyła Brytyjczyków. Imigracjonizm, armia europejska... Unifikację walutową na szczęście wyłączyli. Im szybciej to zmienimy, tym więcej szans zostawiamy Europie.

 
  
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  Τάκης Χατζηγεωργίου (GUE/NGL). – Κυρία Πρόεδρε, νομίζω ότι το Κοινοβούλιο εδώ έχει δώσει κατεύθυνση προς τη Βουλή των Κοινοτήτων για επαναπροβληματισμό και νομίζω ότι και εγώ γενικά πράγματα μπορεί να πω. Πιστεύω ότι το αποτέλεσμα χθες δεν ήταν ήττα της βρετανικής κυβέρνησης μόνον. Ήταν ήττα, κατά την άποψή μου, τις μεγαλαυχίας των πολιτικών εξουσιών διαχρονικά, και βεβαίως της βρετανικής μεγαλαυχίας διαχρονικά. Δεύτερον, πρέπει να κάνουμε αναφορά σήμερα σε ένα όνομα ένεκεν του οποίου βρισκόμαστε σήμερα εδώ και ένεκεν του οποίου βρίσκεται ολόκληρη η Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση και η Βρετανία σε αυτή την κατάσταση και είναι το όνομα του κυρίου Ντέιβιντ Κάμερον. Γιατί το λέω; Όχι για να χλευάσω, αλλά για να πω ότι οι μεγάλοι ηγέτες τις κρίσιμες ώρες δεν κάνουν παιχνίδια. Δεν παίζουμε χαρτοπαίγνιο, δεν είμαστε «gamblers». Τρίτον, τα δημοψηφίσματα πρέπει να γίνονται με φειδώ, ιδιαίτερα όταν οι σημερινοί αποφασίζουν για το πώς θα ζουν εδώ οι άνθρωποι έναν αιώνα μετά. Με φειδώ τα δημοψηφίσματα.

 
  
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  Alojz Peterle (PPE). – Gospa predsedujoča, imamo zmedo, krizo, škodo, časovno stisko in nepredvidljivost. Vse to v škodo Britancev in cele Evropske zveze.

Strinjam se s kolegom Kamalom, da britanski državljani niso bili seznanjeni s posledicami izstopa. Bili so populistično zavedeni s pravljico o neodvisni in bogati prihodnosti. Koliko je vredna demokracija, ki ne temelji na resnici? Plačujemo davek populizmu.

Danes Britanci vedo, kaj pomeni dogovor, kaj nedogovor in kaj je ostati v zvezi. Včeraj je padel dogovor. Če poenostavimo, sta ostali dve opciji: nedogovor ali ostati v Evropski zvezi. Če se ni sposobna odločiti elita, naj odločijo ljudje.

Čim dlje bo trajala nejasnost, tem več podjetij bo zapustilo Veliko Britanijo in tem več njenih državljanov bo iskalo državljanstva po Evropi. Jaz sem za podaljšek roka in za drugi referendum. Predvsem pa za združeno Evropo z Združenim kraljestvom.

 
  
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  Marc Tarabella (S&D). – Madame la Présidente, je voulais répondre à M. Kamall, le leader des conservateurs britanniques au sein de ce Parlement – mais il est parti –, et je voulais aussi dire à M. Farage, qui est également parti – ce qui les intéresse, c’est de faire un show en plénière, puis de s’en aller, le débat ne les intéresse pas –, que c’est d’abord à David Cameron qu’incombe la responsabilité du Brexit, puisqu’il a pris en otage son peuple pour essayer de se faire réélire. Évidemment, les populistes ont embrayé.

Je voudrais saluer Michel Barnier et toute son équipe, car il a raison de dire que cet accord de 600 pages est le meilleur compromis possible. Je vais un peu paraphraser Margaret Thatcher, ce qui ne m’est pas arrivé souvent dans ma vie, parce que je n’avais aucune sympathie pour cette ancienne Première ministre: I think there is no alternative. Ou plutôt si: la seule alternative, c’est que l’on peut profiter de la situation chaotique d’aujourd’hui en donnant du temps au temps, et je pense qu’au niveau du Royaume-Uni, au-delà des populistes, ce sont les gens raisonnables qui vont triompher, ceux qui pensent que et nos citoyens et l’économie ont intérêt à ce que le Royaume-Uni reste. En définitive – et c’est ma conviction –, je pense qu’il n’y aura pas de Brexit.

 
  
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  Joachim Starbatty (ECR). – Frau Präsidentin! Wir wissen, dass die jetzige Lösung, die auf dem Tisch lag, gescheitert ist.

Wir wissen, dass ein Brexit ohne Absicherung katastrophal ist, auch das Nordirland-Problem ist nicht gelöst. Es bleibt also letztlich nur übrig, das Volk noch einmal zu befragen. Da wird gesagt: Ja, wir haben es ja bereits gefragt, es ist nicht demokratisch, es wieder zu befragen. Nein! Demokratie ist Herrschaft des Volkes und nicht das Verweilen bei einem Fehler. Insofern ist es das Beste, das Volk noch einmal zu befragen mit der Fragestellung: Wollen wir noch einmal in Verhandlungen mit dem Europäischen Parlament, mit der Kommission, mit dem Rat eintreten?

Dann möchte ich an dieses Haus eine ernste Bitte richten: Wir sollten nicht auf hohem Ross sitzen, wenn wir verhandeln – wie es bisher der Fall gewesen ist. Alles, was ich in diesem Haus gehört habe, war letztlich: Gott strafe England! Das ist die falsche Haltung. Wir müssen fragen: Was brauchen wir für Europa, was brauchen wir für Großbritannien? So müssen die Verhandlungen geführt werden, und dann kommen sie auch zu einem Erfolg.

 
  
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  Luke Ming Flanagan (GUE/NGL). – Madam President, the first thing that needs to be said – and it isn’t often I agree with MEP Kelly here – is to come back to what Ms Arlene Foster said about there being no hard border in Ireland ever. I’d love to know where Arlene Foster was when the hard border was there. Maybe it wasn’t there for her, because she was so influential she didn’t get stopped, but it was there.

It’s quite clear now that we need an extension to Article 50. The game of chicken being played is heading for a crash. In the event that this does not happen, then the EU needs to lay out exactly how it’s going to help the Irish economy, and in particular our farming communities. I heard a comment from MEP González Pons that this is not Europe’s problem. Now people here will argue that it wasn’t caused by Europe, and that’s a very, very strong argument. You can say that all day long, but it is our problem now. We, in the Republic of Ireland, are Members of the European Union. This is causing a massive problem for us, so to say that this is not a European problem is wrong. Change that attitude!

Can Mr Barnier – who I have to say I was worried about at first, but who has done an excellent job and held his cool the whole way – say what exactly will be done for Ireland in financial terms in the case of a hard Brexit?

(The President cut off the speaker)

 
  
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  Gunnar Hökmark (PPE). – Madam President, first of all, regarding our UKIP colleagues: as far as I understand, they don’t have a single seat in Westminster, not one of them has been elected by the British people to Westminster to deal with the future of the United Kingdom.

(Applause)

I think there is a point in that. But also, to Mr Farage and all the others, I would say this: you should be grateful to the European Union because without the European Union you wouldn’t have any parliamentary representation anywhere.

(Applause)

Secondly, regarding our British friends and those who are dealing with these issues in Westminster. If they want prolongation, if they want time for reflection, if they want to return to the European Union, let us tell them: ‘You are very welcome.’

 
  
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  Maria Grapini (S&D). – Doamnă președintă, domnule comisar, dragi colegi, s-au spus foarte multe lucruri aici. Este un subiect extrem de important. Cred că rezultă că avem o majoritate aici, în Parlamentul European, care dorim ca Marea Britanie să fie aici.

Vreau să îl felicit pe negociator. A făcut tot ce trebuie. Problema nu este la noi. Problema este în Marea Britanie și eu sunt îngrijorată de ceea ce se întâmplă cu cetățenii europeni, cu concetățenii mei care trăiesc acolo. Sunt îngrijorată de ce se va întâmpla cu cetățenii britanici care trăiesc în Uniunea Europeană și, de asemenea, sunt îngrijorată de relațiile comerciale.

Eu cred că trebuie să continuăm negocierile, dar Marea Britanie, prin reprezentanți – nu prin populație, pentru că populația își dorește în majoritate să fie în Uniunea Europeană (...) Am fost în Londra, am fost în Birmingham, am discutat cu cetățeni, cu oameni de afaceri: toți doresc să rămână în Uniunea Europeană. Dar responsabili sunt oamenii politici care dezinformează și am văzut recent un membru al Parlamentului European, de dreapta, când făcea reclamă să ne instige că, dacă va ieși Marea Britanie, vom plăti noi, din buzunarele noastre, pensii eurodeputaților britanici. Fals!

 
  
 

(End of catch-the-eye procedure)

 
  
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  Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the Commission. – Madam President, without the resilience of the British people in our darkest hour we would probably not be sitting here. My country too is grateful for the freedom that British soldiers brought to our shores. There is an unbreakable link between the United Kingdom and Europe, and whether the United Kingdom is in the European Union or not it will be part of Europe in a way that will define our common destiny.

Now it pains me to see the United Kingdom as divided as it is today: the division caused by Brexit has a paralysing effect on British society. I will remain eternally grateful not just for our liberty but also for the British teachers I had as a young lad, who taught me to love British literature and art, who taught me the English language, and this will not change whatever happens. But I want to make one thing perfectly clear in reaction to what was said by Mr Kamall and by Mr Farage. I have not encountered, in the Commission with Michel Barnier, nor in any of the 27 capitals, a punitive attitude in this process. Nobody wants to punish the United Kingdom for leaving the European Union.

(Applause)

In the negotiations we have seen an attitude, in all the capitals and in the Commission, of wanting to do as little harm as possible in this process. However, let’s not create the illusion that this could be a process without harm. Brexit will do harm to the United Kingdom and to the European Union. It is our collective responsibility to limit that harm as much as possible.

Now, what will happen in the next weeks, months and perhaps years is up to the British people to decide – which means, in the first place, up to the House of Commons, where this discussion will be held. And we will have to play with the hand that will be dealt by Britain in this, whatever our thoughts are. I’ve never made a secret of the fact that, of course, I would prefer the United Kingdom to stay in the European Union, but that’s not up to us. That’s up to the British people and the British politicians to decide.

I also want to make one thing very clear in relation to what Mr Kamall said about the internal market and other elements of the European Union. You can’t honestly say ‘I’m going to leave the European Union, but I’m going to take with me everything I like’ regardless of what that does to the European Union.

I think we are under an obligation – as European politicians, as Member States, as institutions – to safeguard the essential elements of what it means to be part of the European Union, which includes the integrity of the four freedoms, which includes the integrity of the internal market. That is non-negotiable.

What also astonishes me is that Mr Farage’s pipe dream of independence would lead him to disregard completely the fundamental importance of the Good Friday Agreement for peace in Europe. It is absolutely clear to the Commission that we have a collective responsibility as Europeans to make sure that peace remains on the island of Ireland.

(Applause)

And, for that peace, in our analysis, it is essential that there are no hard borders in Ireland. Therefore we need the backstop: that also is non-negotiable. And, while it’s encouraging on the one hand that we have this level of European solidarity, that no one in the 27 capitals will throw Ireland under the bus in any circumstances, it is mind boggling that so many people in Westminster would not see the essential value of the Good Friday Agreement and, for their pipe dream, would sacrifice stability and peace in Ireland.

(Applause)

I’m not even talking about the jobs lost, the investment opportunities lost and all of that. It would have been honest, in this campaign that led to the Brexit vote – which we respect – if they’d said: ‘We want this so much that we don’t care that you lose your job, we don’t care that investment will be lost, we don’t care that there will be havoc in the NHS, we don’t care that there will be havoc on the roads. We don’t care, we just want this, regardless of the consequences.’ That would have been an honest Brexit campaign.

Anyway, we will wait for the decisions in Westminster and the UK. We will continue in an honest way with our project to do as little harm as possible, regardless of the cards that we will be dealt.

Mr Kamall quoted the Eagles. Let me stay closer to home and quote the Rolling Stones: ‘You can’t always get what you want but, if you try, sometimes you might get what you need.’

(Applause)

 
  
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  President. – Thank you, First Vice-President, one would perhaps like to hear people sing in the Chamber, it might lighten the mood?

 
  
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  Melania Ciot, President-in-Office of the Council. – Madam President, we obviously have to be hopeful that the parliamentary process in the UK will lead to an outcome conducive to an orderly withdrawal and we have to be as supportive of this process as possible. Should this positive scenario indeed materialise, then we have to realise that the agreement reached on 25 November was just the first step in a long process. We will have to keep the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement under close watch so that it delivers in the interest of citizens and businesses. The negotiations on the future relationship are unlikely to be easy.

We will therefore count on your cooperation at all the stages of these processes in the years to come. Thank you very much once again for your attention.

 
  
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  President. – The debate is closed.

(The sitting was suspended for a few moments)

Written statements (Rule 162)

 
  
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  Birgit Collin-Langen (PPE), schriftlich. – Die Situation in Großbritannien ist äußerst Besorgnis erregend. Für uns ist klar: Das Austrittsabkommen wird nicht neu verhandelt. Wir müssen nun abwarten, welchen Kurs die britische Regierung einschlägt. Wir brauchen eine klare Position aus London. Es steht zu viel auf dem Spiel. Ich hoffe, dass ein ungeregelter Brexit abgewendet werden kann, denn die Schäden, die so ein Bruch mit sich bringen wird, werden für unsere und die britische Wirtschaft verheerend sein.

 
  
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  Tanja Fajon (S&D), pisno. – Britanski parlament je jasno sporočil, da sporazuma, o katerem se je britanska premierka pogodila z EU, ne želi. Sporočil je tudi, da ne želi trdega izhoda, a je ta danes bolj verjeten kot kdajkoli prej. Sinočnje glasovanje pomeni velik poraz za britansko premierko.

A čas je, da Velika Britanija končno sporoči, kaj v resnici želi. Sama sem prepričana, da brexit škoduje vsem. Obžalujem sicer sinočnjo zavrnitev dogovora, vendar dramatiziranje ni potrebno. V zraku je trenutno veliko nejasnosti. Možne so predčasne volitve, nov referendum, a odločitev je na strani Britancev.

Odhod Združenega kraljestva je najslabši scenarij, ki se mu moramo skušati izogniti. Negotovost, v katero bi zapadli tako državljani na Otoku kot Britanci v EU ter gospodarstvo, je prevelika in preveč tvegana.

Socialisti in demokrati v EP državam članicam pošiljamo močno opozorilo, da ne bomo pripravljeni oslabiti že doseženih dogovorov v pogajanjih z Veliko Britanijo. Če bo Otok zaprosil za podaljšanje izhoda, ki bi lahko vodil k bolj ambicioznemu dogovoru, potem temu tudi v Sloveniji ne smemo nasprotovati.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), por escrito. – A decisão soberana do povo britânico de saída do Reino Unido da UE deve ser inteiramente respeitada. Com este pressuposto, devem ser rejeitadas manobras, pressões, ameaças ou chantagens, nomeadamente por parte da UE, que a visem defraudar, deturpar ou mesmo reverter.

O que a realidade evidencia, no Reino Unido e não só, é um profundo sentimento de rejeição das políticas da UE, que agridem os direitos e as aspirações dos trabalhadores e dos povos, que promovem a concentração da riqueza à custa do empobrecimento, que desrespeitam a soberania nacional e o direito ao desenvolvimento de diversos países.

É possível construir uma outra Europa de cooperação entre Estados soberanos, com base no respeito mútuo, na igualdade de direitos, na cooperação, na solidariedade, no desenvolvimento recíproco, no progresso social, na paz.

No quadro presente, o Governo português deve intervir resolutamente, seja junto das autoridades do Reino Unido, seja na UE, para assegurar a defesa dos direitos dos cidadãos portugueses que trabalham e vivem naquele País. Deve ainda tomar as iniciativas necessárias para promover as condições para o desenvolvimento de relações bilaterais mutuamente vantajosas entre Portugal e o Reino Unido, no quadro do respeito da soberania de cada um dos países e dos direitos e aspirações do povo português e do povo britânico.

 
  
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  Danuta Jazłowiecka (PPE), na piśmie. – W czasie minionych dwóch lat mogliśmy obserwować więcej zwrotów akcji niż w niejednym dobrym filmie sensacyjnym. Powinno nas niepokoić, iż kilkadziesiąt dni przed oficjalnym terminem wystąpienia nie wiadomo, czy nastąpi to na podstawie wynegocjowanej umowy czy też będzie to tzw. twardy brexit. Nie ma pewności nawet, czy rzeczywiście Wielka Brytania opuści Wspólnotę. Każda z opcji jest prawdopodobna. Nie powinno nas to cieszyć, gdyż narasta niepewność wśród zwykłych ludzi i przedsiębiorców. Obywatele Unii mieszkający w Wielkiej Brytanii, jak i Brytyjczycy osiedleni na kontynencie nie mogą być pewni jaki będą mieć status za dwa miesiące. Mikro, małe i średnie przedsiębiorstwa nie są w stanie planować działań na najbliższe pół roku i wiele z nich ze względu na tę niepewność będzie musiała zakończyć działalność. Nie musimy daleko szukać konkretnych przykładów niepewności. W samym Parlamencie Europejskim brytyjscy urzędnicy oraz asystenci nie wiedzą, czy po brexicie i po powrocie do domu będą mogli skorzystać z nabytego zasiłku z tytułu bezrobocia czy praw emerytalnych. Taka sytuacja jest nie do przyjęcia!!! Z punktu widzenia zwykłych ludzi trzeba to zakończyć. Jako Parlament Europejski powinniśmy głośno i stanowczo zaapelować do Izby Gmin o natychmiastowe podjęcie decyzji co do przyszłych działań, łącznie z możliwością kolejnego referendum.

 
  
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  Светослав Христов Малинов (PPE), в писмена форма. – Британският политически елит, всички заедно, бавно и постепенно тласкаха лодката към сблъсъка. Две години го наблюдаваме, като катастрофа в забавен кадър и не можем нищо да направим, защото сигналите от Великобритания бяха най-разнопосочни, а ние не можем да взимаме страна. Тереза Мей няма мнозинство в британския парламент по въпросите на Брекзит. Най-лошият вариант е напускане без споразумение. Най-доброто за европейските граждани сега е отлагане на Брекзит и удължаване на срока след 29 март 2019 г. При този вариант също ще има хаос и напрежение, но само в институциите на Европейския съюз, защото бюджетът и европейските избори са планирани без Великобритания. Следващите седмици ще бъдат ключови.

 
  
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  Urmas Paet (ALDE), kirjalikult. – Nüüd, kus Ühendkuningriigi parlament on EList väljaastumise leppe ja poliitilise deklaratsiooni tagasi lükanud, on Ühendkuningriigi valitsusel ja parlamendil vaja ELile teada anda, milliseid suhteid nad ELiga soovivad. Väljaastumise kokkulepe on parim ja ainuke võimalik kompromiss Ühendkuningriigi seatud „punaste joonte“ piires. See loob õigusliku kindluse seal, kus Brexit loob ebakindluse. EL ei aktsepteeri sätestatud suuniste muutmist, mis puudutab rahuprotsessi ja piiri Iiri saarel või kodanike õigusi. Ühendkuningriigis on vaja parteideülest kokkulepet, et saavutada enamus nii ummikseisu lahendamiseks kui ka võimalikuks „punaste joonte“ ümberkujundamiseks.

 
  
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  Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón, in writing. – The impasse that faces both the EU and the UK results from the deeply flawed method by which the Brexit negotiations have been conducted. These have been designed in two sequences: first to establish the conditions for an orderly withdrawal; then those of a future relationship. Aggravated by huge political fractures on the British side, and the steely determination to maintain unity on the EU side, this approach has been driving both sides towards a brick wall. A divorce process can only be well managed if not just the terms for a separation but also those of any alternative future relationship are mapped out. The two sets of terms are interdependent, as is shown by the ongoing controversies within the British political system regarding whether Brexit should be hard or soft. The UK should have been asked first to clear as a matter of principle and policy what future relationship it sought. The EU should have indicated what relationship it found acceptable. Agreement would have been sought on this. Negotiations would then have been about proceeding from a status of full membership to that of the proposed new relationship. Instead, another episode is being played in a soap opera that frankly has become rather dreary.

 
  
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  Kārlis Šadurskis (PPE), rakstiski. – Pateikt vienkārši “nē” ir ļoti viegli. Grūtāk ir piedāvāt risinājumu. Tagad, kad britu parlaments ir nobalsojis pret valdības piedāvāto vienošanos, būtu tikai loģiski, ka parlaments izvēlētos vienu no diviem iespējamajiem ceļiem: piedāvāt jaunu konstruktīvu risinājumu vai arī pajautāt britu pilsoņiem referendumā, vai viņi atbalsta tādu Brexit, kādu valdība ir panākusi sarunās ar ES.

Vissliktākais risinājums būtu Lielbritānijas izstāšanās no ES bez vienošanās. Kaut gan vissāpīgāk to jau nākamajā dienā izjustu paši briti — jo, piemēram, liela daļa medikamentu un pārtikas produktu tiek ievesti no citām ES dalībvalstīm — neskaidrs būtu arī ES pilsoņu statuss Lielbritānijā un viņu tiesību nodrošināšana.

Vienlaikus vēlos norādīt arī uz citu — mazāku publicitāti guvušu, bet ārkārtīgi svarīgu — projektu turpināšanu, kuru dzīvotspēju var apdraudēt Brexit bez vienošanās. Mani uztrauc gan Latvijas studentu statuss Lielbritānijā, gan dažādu pētniecības programmu liktenis, kurās piedalās gan Latvijas, gan ES, gan Lielbritānijas zinātnieki. Lai sadarbība dažādās izglītības un zinātnes programmās turpinātos arī pēc Lielbritānijas izstāšanās no ES, vienošanās ir absolūti nepieciešama.

 
  
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  Henna Virkkunen (PPE), kirjallinen. – Britannian EU-ero ei näytä valitettavasti selkiävän, vaan muuttuu yhä kaoottisemmaksi. Eilinen äänestystulos brittiparlamentissa ei ollut sinänsä yllätys. Pääministeri Mayn neuvottelema erosopimus kaatui nurin selvin luvuin (432–202). Tämä tarkoittaa, että keinot hallitun eron turvaamiseksi alkavat olla vähissä. Riski sopimuksettomaan eroon kasvaa. Britannian lähtöön EU:sta on enää reilut kaksi kuukautta. Uusien neuvotteluiden aloittaminen ei ole realistista tietäen, että nyt torjutusta sopimuksesta neuvoteltiin 18 kuukautta. Meillä ei myöskään ole tarvetta avata sopimusta. Brittiparlamentin tyrmäämä erosopimus olisi kattanut ne kolme päätavoitetta, jotka EU-parlamentti on halunnut varmistaa. Sopimuksessa olisi turvattu Britanniassa asuvien EU-kansalaisten oikeudet ja sovittu Britannian maksuvelvoitteista EU:lle, eikä Irlannin tasavallan ja Pohjois-Irlannin välille olisi tullut kovaa rajaa. Sopimuksen tärkein anti olisi ollut vuoden 2020 loppuun jatkunut eron siirtymäaika, jonka aikana Britannia olisi noudattanut kaikkia EU:n lakeja ja maksanut jäsenmaksut muttei olisi kuitenkaan osallistunut päätöksentekoon. Kun alustavien päälinjojen mukaan Britannia haluaisi olla mukana lähes kaikissa toiminnoissa myös jatkossa, herää kysymys, miksi sitten erota. On selvää, ettei Britannia voi EU:n ulkopuolella saada parempaa sopimusta kuin jäsenenä. Toivottavaa on, että tämä kaikki kaaos Britanniassa johtaa vielä uuteen kansanäänestykseen. Se olisi reilua. Nyt kansalaisilla on parempi käsitys siitä, mitä ero oikeasti tarkoittaa. Britannian ero on suuri tragedia ja osoittaa mitä voi tapahtua, kun populismi pääsee liian pitkälle. Erityisen ikävää tämä on nuorille, jotka olisivat halunneet pysyä unionissa.

 
  
  

PRESIDENZA DELL’ON. ANTONIO TAJANI
Presidente

 
Last updated: 28 May 2019Legal notice