EU can still compromise over Brexit, ex-Commission president says

Jose Manuel Barroso at Euronews' Over and Out event
Jose Manuel Barroso at Euronews' Over and Out event
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By Darren McCaffrey
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"Legal creativity and imagination" can still avoid a hard Brexit, says Jose Barroso

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It's not too late for the UK and European Union to find a deal acceptable to both sides that would avoid a 'hard Brexit' on March 29, according to former EU Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso.

Speaking at a Euronews event at London's Saatchi Gallery, Barroso said he expected that EU negotiators would be willing to move, although they would not go as far as reopening the so-called Withdrawal Agreement, already approved by both sides.

"From what I know from the European Union, the Europeans will make some accommodation," he told Euronews political editor Darren McCaffrey. "It should be possible with some legal creativity and imagination to find some kind of compromise."

Theresa May has been unable to get MPs to sign off on the arrangements she has secured so far with Brussels. One key demand from rebels within her Conservative Party is that she scrap an agreement that could force the UK to remain aligned with EU rules indefinitely to prevent the need for border checks in Northern Ireland (More on that here).

However, Barroso indicated that the Backstop could not be removed completely as rewriting the Withdrawal Agreement which contains it would be a step too far for the EU. Instead, his comments suggest that negotiators could find a way to convince British MPs that it would never be needed or perhaps at least that the UK could never be forced to remain within it forever.

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