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May’s deal ‘only agreement possible’ for orderly Brexit: Barnier

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(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 25, 2018 EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier arrives at a special meeting of the European Council to endorse the draft Brexit withdrawal agreement and to approve the draft political declaration on future EU-UK relations in Brussels. – As a EU Brexit negociator, Barnier gained prestige in the European Union, AFP reported on March 10, 2019. (Photo by Philippe LOPEZ / AFP)

The Brexit deal negotiated by Theresa May is the only one possible for an orderly withdrawal from the EU, the bloc’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said Friday as the race to succeed the British prime minister hots up.

“I repeat calmly that the United Kingdom still wants to leave the European Union… so the agreement that is on the table is the only agreement possible for an orderly withdrawal,” Barnier said.

“This is where we’re at and we’re waiting on the nomination of a new prime minister in London and what it will tell us, that’s what matters,” Barnier told European and African senators meeting in Paris, including the speaker of Britain’s House of Lords, Norman Fowler.

On Thursday former London mayor Boris Johnson, a figurehead of the 2016 Brexit campaign, topped the first round of voting for a new leader of the Conservative party and the country.

Johnson, who wants to negotiate better withdrawal terms, has pledged to take Britain out of the EU by an October 31 deadline “deal or no deal” — despite warnings of dire economic consequences if Britain crashes out without an agreement.

He secured more than twice the number of votes won by his nearest challengers in Thursday’s ballot by Conservative MPs, the first stage in a contest which will produce a new leader in July.

Barnier repeated that Brexit was a “lose-lose” deal for both sides but that Brussels had to respect the result of Britain’s 2016 referendum on EU membership “while limiting the consequences, which are numerous”.


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