BERLIN – German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday the European Union had taken into account the United Kingdom’s concerns about its future relationship with the bloc on the day UK lawmakers were poised to vote on the prime minister’s Brexit deal with the bloc for a second time.
Speaking to the press in Berlin alongside Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, Merkel qualified Tuesday as “an important day” for the process of the UK withdrawing from the EU.
Merkel said EU members had made “clear, far-reaching proposals” that had taken the concerns of the UK into account.
She also reiterated the EU’s interest in facilitating an orderly Brexit as well as “good cooperation” after the UK leaves the bloc.
The chancellor said what happened next depended on the UK parliament, which was on Tuesday set to vote again on PM Theresa May’s Brexit deal with the EU.
If members of Parliament do not give it their backing, as was the case with the first vote on Jan. 15, lawmakers will have to vote over the next two days on whether or not to support leaving the EU without a deal; and whether or not to prolong the negotiations period with the EU in order to reach a negotiated exit.
Merkel did not comment on the possibility of prolonging negotiations, a move that the European Council would have to support next week, but instead laid the decision-making on UK lawmakers.
“The British parliament has the word today and tomorrow. We’ll wait and then we’ll decide,” she said.
Brussels and London have agreed three additional texts in a bid to quell concern among some UK lawmakers, including within May’s Conservative Party, regarding the Irish backstop.
The backstop is a mechanism that was agreed upon by both sides as a way of preventing a hard border between Northern Ireland, part of the UK, and the Republic of Ireland, an EU country, after Brexit.
The UK electorate narrowly voted in favor of leaving the EU in a referendum held in June 2016.
May activated Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon in March 2017, officially notifying the bloc of her country’s intention to withdraw, which triggered a two-year period of negotiations.