EU leaders have warned Theresa May she cannot expect a “legally binding” commitment that the UK will not be tied to the bloc indefinitely through the Northern Ireland backstop.
The prime minister came to Brussels to appeal to the leaders of the 27 member states to give her the assurances that would enable her to get her Brexit deal through Parliament.
But while they promised to do their utmost to ensure the backstop – intended to ensure there is no return to a hard border between the North and the Republic – was never needed, they insisted they could not re-open the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement.
European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said: “We don’t want the UK to think there can be any form of renegotiation, that is crystal clear.
The rebuff came after May – who survived a bruising vote of confidence by Tory MPs – told EU leaders that she could get a Commons majority for the controversial deal, despite heavy criticism from all sides of the House.
This doesn't exactly look like an exchange of pleasantries between Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker as the Brexit summit gets underway. #EUCOpic.twitter.com/l0r4NwDj8h