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EU leaders debate Brexit as UK polls indicates way out

With or without an agreement, Britain is scheduled to leave on January 31. Though many EU leaders are relieved that the Brexit saga is finally coming to an end, more than three years after Britons voted to leave, just as many are saddened at the departure of such a heavyweight member state.

AP|
Dec 13, 2019, 11.32 PM IST
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After congratulating Johnson, EU Council president Charles Michel said that “we expect as soon as possible the vote by the British parliament on the withdrawal agreement”.
Brussels: European Union leaders on Friday debated Britain’s departure from the bloc amid some relief that PM Boris Johnson has secured a parliamentary majority that should allow him to push the long-stalled Brexit divorce deal through parliament.

With or without an agreement, Britain is scheduled to leave on January 31. Though many EU leaders are relieved that the Brexit saga is finally coming to an end, more than three years after Britons voted to leave, just as many are saddened at the departure of such a heavyweight member state.

“I deeply regret that the United Kingdom, our friends, are leaving the European Union,” Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar told reporters in Brussels.

However, he conceded that “it’s always easier for us to be able to negotiate with a partner who has a strong personal mandate and can control a majority in their parliament.”

Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said: “I still regret the outcome of the referendum but I respect it. I’m happy that it will be finally now over with this situation where we are able to agree here but in London they are not able to agree. So, finished, this situation, and that’s good for all of us.“

Joachim Lang, chief executive of the Federation of German Industries, said on Friday that no German company wants Brexit but “our companies are breathing a sigh of relief that there is finally a mandate to accept the withdrawal agreement”.

After congratulating Johnson, EU Council president Charles Michel said that “we expect as soon as possible the vote by the British parliament on the withdrawal agreement”.

“We are ready,” he told reporters as he arrived to chair the meeting of Britain’s 27 EU partner countries. “The European Union will negotiate in order to have close cooperation in the future with the UK.”

Fabian Zuleeg, Chief Executive at the European Policy Center think-tank said that for the EU the election outcome is “positive“ as it means the first stage of Brexit can be concluded.

“There will not be a re-negotiation, there will not be a further delay,'' he said. “Of course the big question is what comes after that.’’ Ultimately, the Brexit divorce negotiations may yet prove to be the easy part.

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