Brexit divorce deal 'will not be renegotiated', says EU's Juncker

Juncker takes part in an interview with the Politico news website.
Juncker takes part in an interview with the Politico news website.PHOTO: REUTERS

BRUSSELS (DPA) - The deal negotiated by Britain on its departure from the European Union "will not be renegotiated," European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker insisted on Tuesday (June 11), irrespective of who succeeds Prime Minister Theresa May.

May has stepped down as leader of the Conservative Party after failing to get her Brexit divorce deal through parliament. The issue is dominating the race for her successor, who will also take over as prime minister ahead of Britain's planned EU exit date of Oct 31.

"This is not a treaty between Theresa May and Juncker. This is a treaty between the United Kingdom and the European Union," the commission president said in an interview with the Politico news website.

"It has to be respected by whomsoever will be the next British Prime Minister," he added.

"The Withdrawal Agreement will not be renegotiated," Juncker insisted, using the official name for the 585-page legal text.

Some changes could be made to an accompanying political declaration on future relations, he noted.

However, Juncker ruled out introducing a time limit on the so-called backstop, an insurance policy aimed at preventing a hard border from emerging on the island of Ireland, where Brexit could otherwise reignite historic tensions between Dublin and Belfast.

Juncker criticised the domestic political upheaval in Britain.

"I have the impression for months now that the main interest for the British political society was how to replace Theresa May and not how to find an arrangement with the European Union," he said.