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 Full text 
Wednesday, 3 April 2019 - Brussels Revised edition

The UK’s withdrawal from the EU (debate)

  Roberto Gualtieri, on behalf of the S&D Group. – Madam President, after two years of negotiations, three failed meaningful votes and two rounds of indicative votes, four days after the UK was meant to leave the EU, Theresa May has finally decided to sit down with the Leader of the Opposition to try to agree a plan on Brexit. One could say ‘better late than never’.

We now need to see if these talks will produce a credible way forward or if they are just another political exercise. We have always said that a closer EU—UK relationship would be beneficial for both sides and that, without touching the Withdrawal Agreement, the political declaration can be swiftly upgraded. So far, it has been Theresa May’s red lines that have made this impossible. We will see, this afternoon or the next day, if she is now really prepared to change these red lines and whether her party is prepared to follow her approach, whoever the next leader is.

Talks alone are not a solution until we see a credible and viable positive majority in the House of Commons before 12 April. This means that the threat of no deal has not disappeared. Politicians must act responsibly and do everything possible to avoid this scenario, which would be bad for everyone but a disaster for the UK. However, if this situation was to materialise, our group would work to ensure that the rights of all EU citizens were ringfenced in any circumstances. Citizens cannot pay the price for the failure of their politicians, and, if the UK Parliament continues to fail to deliver a solution, then the British people deserve the right to have their final say.


This is the reason why a longer extension cannot – and must not – be ruled out. If there is a request in this respect, it will have to be well motivated and the obligation of loyal cooperation should be defined and respected. But, in these circumstances, this request cannot be rejected. UK citizens are, and remain, European citizens, and their voice and their rights are not, and will not go, unheard in this House.

But why do we have this deadlock? Why do we have this constant difficulty to deliver a solution? And why are we now seeing in the opinion polls that at an increasing number of people are signing the petition to revoke Article 50? The truth is that Brexit is a tragic mistake. It is a lose—lose solution built on a mountain of lies. Because European citizenship is a concept full of substance, and losing it reduces, rather than increases, sovereignty. So what we can do, if Brexit takes place, is minimise this reduction of rights. But we will never say, in any circumstances, that Brexit is a positive solution. And whatever this Group can do to avoid this outcome, we will do it.


Last updated: 26 June 2019Legal notice