BREAKING: European Union leaders endorse Brexit deal
ALL 27 European Union leaders have endorsed the Brexit deal, European Council president Donald Tusk confirmed today.
The endorsement means all eyes now turn to Westminster, where British Prime Minister Theresa May faces an uphill battle to get the deal through the House of Commons.
Despite the tentative breakthrough, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said: “It is a very sad day. A country leaving the EU doesn’t give rise to the raising of Champagne glasses or applause. It is a sad day and everybody who spoke today during the European Council attempted to express their sadness.
“It was broadly shared, if not unanimously shared.”
The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said it was a “fair and balanced agreement” and “the best deal possible given the circumstances”. He added: “We will remain allies, partners and friends with the UK.”
At a press conference in Brussels, Theresa May said: “Before Christmas, MPs will vote on this deal. It will be one of the most significant votes that Parliament has held for many years. On it will depend whether we move forward together into a brighter future or open the door to yet more division and uncertainty.”
Entering the emergency summit this morning, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he regrets the UK’s departure from the European Union, but insisted Ireland has secured a “good deal” from Brexit.
“I still regret the fact that the UK is leaving the European Union. I think the best thing for Ireland and for Europe would be for the UK to stay in the European Union, stay in the single market and the customs union. But we respect their decision,” the Taoiseach told reporters.
He said the draft “Withdrawal Agreement” protected Irish interests, citizens’ rights, a common travel area, and a transition which will allow the EU and UK to negotiate a new future relationship. If those talks failed Ireland still had the so-called “backstop” which would ensure there will be no return of border controls in Ireland and continued free trade with Britain.
“It allows us to move on,” Mr Varadkar added.