Brexit: EU rules out further talks over divorce deal but Theresa May insists otherwise

EU says no further meetings are foreseen and all possible concessions have been made

European Commission spokesperson Margaritis Schinas says no further Brexit talks are foreseen

The EU has said it does not expect to hold any more meetings with the UK government over the Brexit deal despite continuing claims by Theresa May that she can secure more concessions.

The prime minister on Friday said the UK and EU “will be holding talks in coming days” to discuss changes to the backstop after leaders rebuffed her at a Brussels summit.

But on Monday the chief spokesperson for the European Commission said: “The deal that is on the table is the best and only deal possible. We will not re-open it. It will not be renegotiated.

“The European Council has given the clarifications that were possible at this stage, so no further meetings with the United Kingdom are foreseen.”

On Friday, European Council president Donald Tusk told reporters in Brussels that he had “no mandate to organise any further negotiations”.

Despite the clear signals from Brussels that no further concessions or reassurances are possible, and that officials would not be meeting, Downing Street is continuing to claim that they are – perhaps in a bid to stave off further disquiet from Conservative MPs.

The prime minister’s spokesperson said on Monday: “What the prime minister is focused on is securing the extra assurances which are required to get the deal through the House of Commons.”

He added: “I think you can expect officials to continue talking.”

The prime minister claimed on Friday that “further clarification and discussion” were “in fact possible” after EU leaders sent her back to London with only a bare-bones statement.

European Commission spokesperson Margaritis Schinas said no further meetings were foreseen 

The statement issued by leaders warns that the withdrawal agreement “is not open for renegotiation”, but clarifies that the controversial backstop will “apply temporarily, unless and until it is superseded by a subsequent agreement”. The text added that the EU will “use its best endeavours” to get it replaced quickly “so that the backstop would only be in place for as long as strictly necessary”.

They assured the UK it was the EU’s “firm determination to work speedily” to replace it with a trade agreement.

The limited reassurances are unlikely to assuage Tory Eurosceptics, who want a legally binding mechanism for the UK to leave the treaty’s Northern Ireland backstop.

The bloc has ruled this out, said it would effectively render the backstop ineffective, and that it will not reopen the withdrawal agreement.

That backstop policy ties the UK to the EU’s customs area and ramps up checks on goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland in order to prevent a hard border with the Republic of Ireland.

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