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'Sad': Danish leaders react to UK parliament rejection of Brexit deal

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'Sad': Danish leaders react to UK parliament rejection of Brexit deal
Brexit activists outside the Houses of Parliament in London on March 12th. Photo: NIKLAS HALLE'N/Ritzau Scanpix
09:45 CET+01:00
Leading Danish politicians reaffirmed their solidarity with the European Union in reactions to the latest development in the United Kingdom's chaotic EU withdrawal process.

On Tuesday evening, British prime minister Theresa May suffered a second humiliating defeat as MPs again rejected the withdrawal deal she had negotiated with the European Union.

May had hoped to win over Brexiter MPs in her Conservative Party with new assurances over the backstop, a mechanism designed to prevent a future hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Pro-Brexit MPs opposed to the backstop say the UK risks becoming trapped indefinitely in a customs union with the EU through the device.

The deal was rejected by 391 votes to 242 in the House of Commons.

The British parliament will vote on Wednesday over whether to rule out the possibility of leaving the country without a deal, in a so-called no-deal Brexit. The parliament is expected to vote against allowing a no-deal.

A further vote is planned to take place on Thursday on whether to ask the EU for an extension to the current withdrawal date of March 29th.

With only 16 days remaining until that date, however, the response of the EU remains unclear, as does what action May or parliament will take during any extension, and for how long the extension would be.

Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, in comments posted on Twitter shortly after the vote, seemed to acknowledge the possibility of no-deal regardless of the outcome of Wednesday's vote.

After initially tweeting the words “very sad” with the British, EU and Danish flags, Rasmussen later wrote that he was “deeply saddened” by the failure of May's deal.

“Despite clear EU assurances on the backstop, we now face a chaotic no-deal Brexit scenario. And time is almost up,” the PM wrote.

“We will intensify our no-deal preparation,” he added.

Rasmussen has previously moved to reassure Brits living in Denmark that they will be allowed to stay in the country in the event of a no-deal Brexit, and the government recently introduced a bill providing for the rights of UK citizens living in Denmark, should the UK leave the EU without a deal.

READ ALSO: Denmark's no-deal Brexit bill: What British residents need to know

Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen also made reference to the likelihood of a no-deal Brexit in a tweet on Tuesday evening.

“The ball is once again in the Brits' court. It is up to the British government and the British parliament to find a solution. In the meantime, the (Danish) government is continuing our preparations for a no-deal scenario,” Samuelsen wrote.

Uffe Elbæk, leader of the environmentalist Alternative party, described Tuesday's events as a “total breakdown” and called for a second referendum on Brexit.

“Now we can only hope that they [parliament, ed.] ask for an extension [to the withdrawal date]. And that they spend the time on a new referendum,” Elbæk wrote.

The Social Democrats, the largest party in opposition, called the situation “very serious for the UK, the EU and Denmark”.

“But there are still 17 days remaining to secure a sensible withdrawal agreement,” the party's political spokesperson Nicolai Wammen wrote late on Tuesday.

"All parties in the United Kingdom must contribute to a solution," Wammen added.

READ ALSO: Brits in Europe hold breath before vote on Theresa May's 'improved' deal

 

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