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EU to stay by Brexit deal if UK changes PM: EU diplomats

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
British Prime minister Theresa May (L) is welcomed by European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker prior to their meeting as part of the Brexit negotiations, on December 11, 2018 in Brussels. (AFP photo)

European Union diplomatic sources have insisted that a deal on Britain’s withdrawal from the bloc will stay as it is even if members of the country’s ruling Conservative Party decide to oust Prime Minister Theresa May and introduce a new head of the government.

One EU diplomat told the Daily Express on Wednesday that if May was replaced in an ongoing Tory leadership challenge, the bloc will still stand by its Brexit deal with the UK government and would not allow a renegotiation.

“On substance I don’t think it matters because we’re dealing with government of UK,” said the diplomat, adding, “The leadership might change or might not change but I cannot expect another outcome.”

The comments come as May faces a no-confidence vote on her Tory leadership later on Wednesday. The vote was planned after more than 48 lawmakers have already submitted letters to the chairman of party’s 1922 committee of backbenchers to demand the move.

May said earlier on Wednesday that she will fight the challenge with all she had in her power. The British premier warned that the motion, which was launched after she deferred a very important parliamentary vote on her Brexit deal, would make the political situation more complicated and would even cause the government and the EU to delay or cancel Brexit.

However, EU sources said that there was little chance that the bloc would allow Britain to extend its membership beyond the Brexit date, which is March 29, 2019.

“Prolongation is not probable and not realistic because then you’d need a new summit in January to create unity on our side,” said An EU diplomat.

Another EU official said the important issue for the bloc to decide on continued negotiation on Brexit was to see who replaces May and how the new prime minister would deal with the issue.  

“If there is a request to negotiate further it would have to be clear on the length of the extension and why the extra time is needed,” said the official from Brussels, adding, “But first that request has to be made, the request must be clear – nobody amongst the EU27 is against the UK.”

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