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After EU endorses Brexit deal, Theresa May tells UK: 'This is all there is'

The biggest hurdle for the Brexit deal is the House of Commons vote – as it stands now, that doesn’t look likely to happen.

Image: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

Updated Nov 25th 2018, 2:35 PM

THE LEADERS OF 27 EU member states, including Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, have endorsed the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement as was expected.

It’s been reported that it took just 37 minutes for the European Union’s leaders to agree to the deal this morning.

The European Council agreed with the progress made so far in the 500-page Brexit deal, which includes specific provisions to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland, and also endorsed a 26-page document on the future relationship (more on what we expected to happen here). 

In a statement given from Brussels, British Prime Minister Theresa May said that the Brexit deal struck with the European Union is the only one possible, urging MPs and the British public to get behind it.

“If people think there is somehow another negotiation to be done, that is not the case,” she told reporters after EU leaders approved the divorce text, echoing comments made by EU leaders earlier today.

“This is the deal that is on the table, this is the best possible deal, it’s the only possible deal.”

Ahead of the meeting, Varadkar told RTÉ that the summit would be the “culmination of nearly two years of work”.

Tánaiste and Foreign Affairs minister Simon Coveney said that it was an “historic but sad day in Brussels as EU leaders support Brexit plan for UK departure from the EU.

“There’s work ahead to ratify the deal in London, the EU Parliament and to negotiate detail of future relationship, but today a big step towards an orderly Brexit.”

The conference started with a statement from the European Council President Donald Tusk, then opening the floor to a discussion from EU leaders, and ending with a talk from Theresa May. 

At a press statement given after the summit,  President of the European Commission Jean Claude Juncker said:

“This is the only deal possible. Those who think that by rejecting the deal, they will get a better deal, will be disappointed.”

Belgium EU Brexit European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier speaks with the media as he arrives today. Source: AP/PA Images

In the few days before the final vote, Spain threatened to “veto” the Brexit deal, even though there won’t be a vote on the progress made to date until if and after it’s approved by the House of Commons.

On the morning before the talks today, Prime Minister Theresa May penned an open letter published in most UK media outlets this morning, asking for the public to “back her Brexit plan”.

The deal “will protect the integrity of our United Kingdom and ensure that there will be no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland – so people can live their lives as they do now”, May asserted. 

She continued:

It must mark the point when we put aside the labels of ‘Leave’ and ‘Remain’ for good and we come together again as one people.
To do that we need to get on with Brexit now by getting behind this deal.

“Parliament will have the chance to do that in a few weeks’ time when it has a meaningful vote on the deal I hope to strike today.

I will be campaigning with my heart and soul to win that vote and to deliver this Brexit deal, for the good of our United Kingdom and all of our people.

It’s unsure whether May’s Brexit deal will pass in the House of Commons due to Brexiteers’ concerns about the Irish backstop, Scottish fishermen, Gibraltar and other issues.

One commentator described May’s deal as “Frankenstein’s monster, a broken, grotesque invention, stumbling around, half-alive, tormented by anger against its creator”.

Yesterday, at the DUP annual conference, prominent Tory politician Boris Johnson said that they should “junk the backstop”, sparking rapturous applause from the party that is propping up May’s minority government.

The European Union’s most powerful official Jean-Claude Juncker lamented Britain’s departure from the bloc as a “tragedy”.

“It’s a sad day,” the president of the European Commission told reporters.

To see a country like Great Britain… leave the EU is not a moment of joy nor of celebration, it’s a sad moment and it’s a tragedy.

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