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Brexit has been a ‘waste of time and energy’, EU’s Jean-Claude Juncker says

BayRadio | October 23, 2019

Brexit has been a “waste of time and energy” for the European Union, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has said.

Addressing the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Mr Juncker said it has “pained” him to have spent “so much” of his time in his role dealing with Britain’s departure from the bloc.

“A waste of time and a waste of energy,” he continued.

“The commission has worked tirelessly to negotiate and renegotiate an agreement with the United Kingdom to respect the UK’s decision to leave the European Union.”

Mr Juncker said the EU could only ratify the Brexit deal that was agreed last week once it has been approved by British MPs.

“We need now to watch events in Westminster very closely, but it’s not possible, not imaginable that this parliament would ratify the agreement before Westminster has ratified the agreement,” Mr Juncker told MEPs.

“First London, then Brussels and Strasbourg.”

In Westminster, Boris Johnson is preparing for two key votes that will be likely to determine whether he will be able to meet his pledge to take the UK out of the EU at the end of this month.

They focus on the government’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill, which the government wants to swiftly pass into law in time for the deadline.

The legislation aims to enshrine the Brexit deal into UK law.

Mr Johnson has issued an eleventh-hour appeal to MPs to back the bill, though there are complaints that he is trying to hurry it through without enough scrutiny.

Despite his efforts European Council President Donald Tusk said he was discussing a request for a delay to Brexit with other EU leaders.

A decision over the extension – which the government was forced into seeking – will be made “in the coming days”.

The request should be treated “in all seriousness”, he added.

Mr Tusk continued: “It is obvious that the result of these consultations will very much depend on what the British parliament decides or doesn’t decide.

“We should be ready for every scenario.

“But one thing must be clear. As I said to Prime Minister Johnson on Saturday, a no-deal Brexit will never be our decision.”

The European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, meanwhile, has suggested that ratification of the deal there was not a foregone conclusion.

Guy Verhofstadt suggested “all problems faced by EU27 nationals in the UK need to be solved” first.

He said his demands included no citizens being deported from Britain if they miss the deadline for settled status in order to prevent “another Windrush scandal”.

Mr Johnson managed to secure a new Brexit deal with the EU at a summit last week, setting the stage for a vote on Saturday on his withdrawal agreement.

But MPs approved an amendment which saw them withhold support for the PM’s deal, unless and until he has passed all necessary legislation to implement it.

Having come to office pledging to deliver Brexit at the end of this month, Mr Johnson formally requested a three-month delay on Saturday.

He was legally required to request this delay under the so-called “Benn Act” – the legislation passed by opposition MPs in September to prevent a no-deal Brexit.

On Monday, Speaker John Bercow rejected the PM’s attempt to stage a straight yes/no vote – a so-called “meaningful vote” – on the deal, as he cited a centuries-old convention.

Written by BayRadio

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