Heiko Maas said Tuesday that the EU could arrange further discussions on Brexit if the House of Commons, rejects Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal with the EU during a vote planned later in the day.
Mass, however, reiterated EU’s position that there would be no significant changes to the deal signed between May’s government and the bloc in November, Presstv reported.
“If it goes wrong tonight, there could be further talks,” said Maas, adding, “The agreement stands, as it is. I doubt very much that the agreement can be fundamentally reopened. If there were a better solution, it would already have been put forward.”
The remarks came as Britain’s The Sun newspaper said May had reportedly managed to gain concessions from German Chancellor Angela Merkel over the weekend to try to improve her chances of securing the Brexit deal in the Commons.
A German government spokesman, however, denied the claims, saying Merkel had offered no more assurances to May over the Brexit deal and its clauses other than what had been promised by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk in a letter to London on Monday.
“The German Chancellor has given no assurances beyond those that were discussed by the European Council in December and what is set out in the letter from Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk,” said the spokesman on Tuesday.
Tusk and Juncker wrote to May about a controversial clause in the Brexit agreement which sets out plans for administration of the Irish border in case Britain and the EU fail to reach a comprehensive trade deal two years after Brexit in December 2020.
The Irish backstop has been a main bone of contention between May and members of the British parliament with many of them arguing the clause would allow entrapping the UK indefinitely in the EU customs union.
May’s government has ruled out the claims, saying it would not be in the EU’s interest to implement the backstop without a time limit as it would inflict huge financial and administrative costs on Brussels.
The Commons is expected to conclude its five-day debate on May’s Brexit deal around 9.00 pm on Tuesday.
Many expect the prime minister to lose the crucial vote by a large margin. That would open various scenarios for Britain, including a disorderly Brexit on March 29 or a cancellation of the popular decision in 2016 to leave the bloc.
The head of euro zone finance ministers, Mario Centeno, also said on Tuesday that Britain and the EU could begin fresh talks to adjust their positions to avoid a a no-deal Brexit after a potential rejection of May’s withdrawal agreement in the parliament.
“We can open all the dossiers ... We need to take informed decisions with total calm and avoid a no-deal exit. Practically anything is better than a no-deal exit,” said Centeno.