07:05 GMT +312 November 2019
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    An anti-Brexit activist wears a hat covered in badges reading Brexit: Not going well is it? as she demonstrates opposite the Houses of Parliament in London on January 29, 2019.

    Brexit Latest: MEP Slams UK for 'Magical Irish Backstop Thinking' Ahead of PMQs

    © AFP 2019 / Tolga Akmen
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    If the EU has to choose between two evils - opening an unchecked door to the single market or a no-deal Brexit - it would opt for a no-agreement divorce with Britain, said the co-chair of the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance.

    Philippe Lamberts of the Greens/EFA parliamentary group commented on the outcome of Tuesday's vote in the UK House of Commons.

    "What was voted yesterday amounts to say — 'We don't want any backstop.' Well, we [EU] are not going to say that we surrender the backstop or that we will make no checks at the borders, even though the UK might significantly diverge in terms of sanitary, social, environmental standards. And then we should let a 500-km door open to the single market without any checks?" the EU official argued.

    On 29 January, British MPs voted on seven amendments to the government's Withdrawal Agreement, with only two having passed by a majority: Sir Graham Brady's amendment seeking the Northern Ireland backstop to be replaced with "alternative arrangements" and Dame Caroline Spelman's amendment rejecting a no-deal exit from the EU.

    While the clock is running down for Brexit negotiators on both sides, there is still concern that lawmakers in Britain put party politics before the well-being of the nation, reflected in the inconclusive result of the latest Parliament session.

    "Both Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn are putting party before country — that's quite obvious," Philippe Lamberts said.

    Ahead of Wednesday's discussion with the EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, Lamberts commented on the amendment to introduce "alternative arrangements" to the Irish backstop issue, backed by British politicians.

    "What are those "alternative arrangements"? When I am asking for people to be specific about it, they are at a loss. So it is magical thinking and I live in the real world."

    EU Remains United

    After the Brexit Steering Group meeting at the European Parliament (EP) in Brussels on 20 January, where Mr. Barnier has met with EP Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt, EU's main Brexit man commented on the union's latest position.  

    "The EU institutions remain united, and we stand by the agreement that we have negotiated with the UK," Michel Barnier said.

    Barnier's statement echoed the words of the spokesperson for the European Council President Donald Tusk, who said that Withdrawal Agreement is not up for renegotiation.

    Mr. Tusk is to hold a phone discussion about Brexit with the UK PM Theresa May on Wednesday, at 17.45 GMT.

    Forget Second Referendum

    No amendment put forward to British lawmakers on Tuesday proposed a vote on a second referendum on Britain's withdrawal from the EU.  

    With the mounting pressure of the 29 March deadline, MPs are faced with the choice of altering the current proposal in a way that would be popular with both hard Brexiteers and the EU leaders or risking a no-deal exit. It appears the option of the second people's vote on the deal has now taken a step back from the list of viable solutions to the Brexit stalemate.

    Opposition leader, Labour Party's Jeremy Corbyn — who previously refused to meet and hold talks with the PM unless she would take no-deal Brexit off the table — has now changed his mind and is scheduled to see Theresa May on Wednesday.

    At the meeting, Corbyn has been reported to insist the Parliament's will is respected and a no-deal Brexit is rejected by Downing Street.  

    Theresa May will face the parliamentarians on Wednesday for the weekly round of PM Questions, where further discussion on Brexit is expected to take place. 

    Related:

    Brexit Minister: We Leave on 29 March Without Deal Unless We Can Agree Something
    No Renegotiation: EU, UK Leaders React to Brexit Amendment Vote
    Most People in UK Would Prefer Not to Leave Without Brexit Deal – Scholar
    Tags:
    Brexit, European Union, Donald Tusk, Michel Barnier, Theresa May, Philippe Lamberts, United Kingdom
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