0117 GMT February 20, 2019
Romano Prodi, the Italian who served as president of the EU Commission until 2004, said Saturday that if the British parliament rejects Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal next week, the EU will have to come back to the negotiating table.
“We must keep free trade between us because it is in the British interests and European interest,” said Prodi in an interview with The Observer, adding that the two sides could reach a compromise on the thorny issue of the Irish border in order to clinch a deal that could appeal to the British lawmakers, Presstv Reported.
The comments come as both the EU and May’s government have repeatedly said that the current deal is the “only” and “best” option available for Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.
The current EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said last month after signing off on then agreement that there would be no chance for a renegotiation of the withdrawal treaty and the accompanying political declaration which sets the broad terms for future relations.
However, Prodi said EU’s insistence on the current deal was merely a political gesture and there would be every chance for a renegotiation.
“Look, when the British parliament has still to vote you are obliged to be in this position. But then of course the day after you start dealing. This is politics,” he said.
On Tuesday, the House of Commons is set to vote on the draft Brexit deal, an agreement which was finalized in Brussels after nearly two years of tough negotiations.
Britain leaves the EU on March 29, 2019.