January 14, 2019 / 5:38 PM / 6 months ago

Take our outstretched hand, Germany's Weber urges UK lawmakers

BERLIN (Reuters) - German conservative Manfred Weber, who is running to take over the European Union’s top job this year, urged British lawmakers on Monday to approve Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal, which he said could not be renegotiated.

Manfred Weber, member of the Christian Social Union party (CSU) and top candidate of the European People's Party (EPP) for the European elections attends an interview with Reuters in Berlin, Germany, January 14, 2019. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

The fate of the United Kingdom’s March 29 exit from the EU is deeply uncertain as parliament is likely to reject May’s deal on Tuesday, opening up outcomes ranging from a disorderly divorce to reversing Brexit altogether.

Weber, leader of the European People’s Party in the European Parliament, told Reuters the deal could not be improved.

“The invitation is still there to our British colleagues, please vote in favour - take the outstretched hand of the European Union so that there is as little damage as possible on March 29,” he said.

“It is a good offer and there won’t be any renegotiation.”

On Monday, Spain’s foreign minister said the EU could agree to extend the deadline for Brexit, but not beyond elections for the European Parliament due in May.

Weber could not imagine Britain taking part in the election, suggesting he agreed that Brexit must be wrapped up by May.

“It is hard to imagine that Britain, a country that is leaving the European Union, could take part in the elections for the European Parliament for the next five years,” he said.

Weber said it was not right to speculate about a possible extension of the deadline for Brexit before Tuesday’s vote in London.

“But what is clear is that any debate about an extension only makes sense if we have new circumstances - if something changes, if the debate changes, if we get clearer goals from Britain in which direction the negotiations should go in the future,” he said.

“That is all speculation at the moment, so we must wait.”

Reporting by Andreas Rinke; Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by Janet Lawrence

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