As the U.K.’s political establishment focuses on a leadership race in the ruling Conservative Party, European leaders like Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel are keen to remind the U.K. government that the bloc will not re-open negotiations on the Brexit deal.
“For the moment we are still waiting. We had an agreement between the government of the U.K. and EU and we’re still waiting for the vote in Westminster. I don’t want no deal but we’re prepared for no deal,” Bettel told CNBC’s Silvia Amaro in Luxembourg Thursday.
“The U.K. is in a situation now where we don’t know which way it will go.” Still, he said, there was “no moment to blame anyone,” for the Brexit deal that was agreed and that a leadership change in the U.K. would not change the situation.
“This is the best possible agreement and there is no door for renegotiations,” he said.
Brexit has been put on the backburner since it became painfully clear that departing Prime Minister Theresa May could not get a majority of the U.K. Parliament to support the Brexit deal she had struck with Brussels.
Pro-Brexit protesters demonstrate outside the Houses of Parliament on March 13, 2019 in London, England.
Dan Kitwood | Getty Images
The deal failed to pass the House of Commons (the Lower House of Parliament) three times and facing pressure from her own party, May agreed to stand down as party leader, her resignation coming into effect last Friday. Now, the U.K. is witnessing a leadership race in the Conservative Party and the winner will take over the reins (and Brexit proceedings) from Theresa May.
Whoever succeeds May, and former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is the favorite, Brexit face something of a poisoned chalice. May secured another delay to the U.K.’s departure from the bloc, now due on October 31, but Brexiteers in the Conservative party are itchy to get the process over and done with.
Boris Johnson, who is ahead in leadership race polls, said on Wednesday he doesn’t want to see a “no deal” Brexit but that the U.K. had to prepare for one, and prepare to renegotiate with the EU.
For its part, however, the EU has said it is not willing to renegotiate the deal or allow for any further extension come October 31. Bettel echoed that view on Thursday.
“An extension for what? If the deal is just to have an extension just to have an extension, no, we need a reason to have an extension or we need a clear plan,” he said.
“They (the British government) did an agreement, we signed it not with Theresa May but with the U.K. government. And it’s not because you’re changing a leader (that) then we have to say ‘so you need a new delay.'”
“If still in six months or a year we still have no agreement and then they change again the leader again and then we start again with a new delay? No. I won’t agree to have a new delay just to have a new delay.”