"Come to a conclusion and close the deal", Dutch PM says about Brexit
Prime Minister Mark Rutte is "not optimistic" about British Prime Minister Theresa May finding a new way to handle the so-called Irish backstop in the Brexit. "We are sleepwalking into a no deal scenario. It's unacceptable and your best friends have to warn you. Wake up. This is real. Come to a conclusion and close the deal", he said to BBC journalist Laura Keunssberg, addressing May.
The backstop is a regulation that must ensure that there is no hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland after the United Kingdom leaves the European Union. It's been a sore point all through the Brexit negotiations, and one of the reasons the British House of Commons shot down a withdrawal treaty reached between May and the EU in January.
Rutte is also critical of reports that May is considering postponing the Brexit - currently on March 29th - by two months, to prevent a no deal Brexit. "It's up to the UK", the Dutch Prime Minister said, repeating a statement he made in January. "If the UK ask for delay, the EU will ask what do you want with it? We don't want to go round in circles for the next couple of months. What will be achieved by it?"
May was in the Egyptian resort of Sharm El Sheikh on Monday to talk with a number of EU leaders, including German Prime Minister Angela Merkel and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, according to RTL Nieuws. Both May and European Council president Donald Tusk asked her about plans to delay the Brexit. Tusk called postponement a "rational decision" as there is no majority in the House of Commons for any Brexit proposal. "We're getting a chaotic Brexit, or postponement", he said, according to the broadcaster.
On Tuesday negotiators from the EU and UK will meet again in Brussels, to discuss alternatives for the backstop, among other things. A major EU summit will be held in the week before the Brexit, starting on March 21st. The goal is for May and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker to have their work finished by then. A vote is scheduled in the House of Commons in the week before that.