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EU requires May to drop her red lines to save divorce deal

AFP
Brussels
The British parliament’s crushing rejection of the Brexit withdrawal deal will not force Europe to renegotiate its terms, but will almost certainly delay the divorce.
And if Brussels gives London a few months’ grace it would be to allow Britain to change course and seek closer future ties than Prime Minister Theresa May has so far been ready to accept.
Some in London think May should try to win new concessions or assurances that would allow her to revive a deal that MPs rejected by 432 votes to 202.
But EU officials insist there’s no room to renegotiate a withdrawal deal hammered out over 18 months of painstaking diplomacy, and experts warn against allowing May false hope.
Nevertheless, the withdrawal agreement came with a political declaration that laid out a road-map to future UK-EU ties, and this could be modified if May drops her red lines.
Britain could then seek a Norway-style association with the EU, remaining a member of a customs union or even the single market, in return for accepting some conditions of membership.
Peter Kellner, visiting scholar at Carnegie Brussels and former head of polling firm YouGov, told AFP that EU negotiators should adopt “tough love tactics” with Britain.
“The issue next week or the one after will be what happens when it becomes clear that Theresa May cannot get anything like what she wants through parliament,” he said. One of two things will happen: Either she will change her position radically or, if she doesn’t, parliament will take control and parliament will impose a radical change.

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