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President Tajani: 'We must continue to follow the Irish situation closely and stand by Ireland’s side'

Opening the European Parliament debate assessing the Westminster vote on the UK`s withdrawal from the EU on Tuesday evening, President Tajani stressed how important continued solidarity for the island of Ireland is.

He further stated:

“Yesterday, the British Parliament voted by a large majority against the agreement that has been negotiated over the last two years with the European Union. We take note of this vote, although not without regret, and we respect it because it expresses the will of the majority of the political forces in the House of Commons.

However, this vote must be interpreted correctly. We cannot overlook the fact that these various forces voted against the agreement for diametrically opposed reasons, some concerned about the backstop, others hoping for a closer relationship with the Union in the future by, for example, staying in the Customs Union.

It is too early to assess the consequences of this vote, but we are certainly not yet in a no-deal situation. Moreover, there is no majority in Westminster for that either. We understand that there are two negative majorities in the British parliament, one against the agreement and the other against the possibility of leaving the Union without agreement, but there is no positive majority.

We therefore hope that work will begin to build a majority in favour of a shared solution as soon as possible and we look forward to hearing how the British government intends to proceed. We, for our part, are ready to be ambitious with regards to our future relations with the United Kingdom, were the British government to share this ambition and decide to change the red lines it had imposed on itself.

The European Parliament has complete confidence in our negotiator, Michel Barnier, who has conducted the negotiations with the United Kingdom with moderation, intelligence and wisdom.

If it is not possible to be more ambitious, we will be faced with an exit without agreement. It would, however, have negative effects in every respect for all. Otherwise, we will be faced with an exit without an agreement which would be a catastrophe in every respect.

We will certainly have to continue our preparations to deal with the possibility of an exit without an agreement, thinking in particular of the citizens of the Union living in the United Kingdom and the British on the continent who, more than anyone else, suffer from uncertainty and would be the first victims of a disorderly exit.

We must continue to follow the Irish situation closely and stand by Ireland’s side. We must ensure that that border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland is a flexible border but that at the same time the interests of European health, agriculture and food industry are safeguarded.

Finally, even at this juncture, we must maintain unity among Member States and the institutions that we have managed to build up during these long and difficult negotiations showing that the Union, in difficult situations, works well.”

Click here to watch European Parliament debate this morning.