EU leader Juncker: British vote raises risk of disorderly Brexit

Juncker (left) speaking at a session of the EU parliament in Brussels on Jan 30, 2019.
Juncker (left) speaking at a session of the EU parliament in Brussels on Jan 30, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

BRUSSELS (AFP) - EU leader Jean-Claude Juncker warned Wednesday (Jan 30) that the British parliament's decision to demand changes to the Brexit withdrawal deal had increased the risk of a messy "no deal" divorce.

"Yesterday's vote increased the risk of a disorderly withdrawal," the president of the European Commission told MEPs. "We need to be ready for all scenarios, including the worst."

Speaking at a debate on the crisis for European lawmakers, the EU Commission president reiterated the EU position that the withdrawal agreement already signed last year with Prime Minister Theresa May can not be re-negotiated.

And, while he said he would "work day and night" to head off the danger of a no-deal divorce, Tuesday's debate in the House of Commons had not changed anything and Europe remains united in support of the agreement.

He insisted that the so-called "Irish backstop", opposed by eurosceptic British MPs, must remain in the deal as an insurance against the return of a hard border on Ireland and against "slipping back into darker times past."