‘The time for little games is now over’: How Europe has reacted to historic Brexit vote

The dust continues to settle after Theresa May’s humiliating defeat on Tuesday evening in the House of Commons.

MPs voted down her Withdrawal Agreement by 432 votes to 202 – a massive majority of 230 – making it the biggest Commons defeat for any government in more than a century.

The vote had been postponed for five weeks as Mrs May hoped to gain assurances from EU leaders but Tuesday’s damning loss shows it was in vain.

She now faces a damaging no-confidence vote while European leaders have remained defiant in their position.

  • Michel Barnier

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The EU’s chief negotiator has said the Government needs to explain how it intends to proceed with Brexit.

Speaking in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, he said the vote showed the “political conditions” were not yet present in London to ratify the agreement.

“It is up to the British authorities today or tomorrow to assess the outcome of this vote and up to the British Government to indicate how we are going to take things forward on March 29 to an orderly withdrawal,” he said.

  • Jean-Claude Juncker

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In the wake of Tuesday’s vote, the European Commission president said it risks a “disorderly withdrawal from the EU.”

“I urge the United Kingdom to clarify its intentions as soon as possible.“

  • Donald Tusk

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On Tuesday evening, the European Council president appeared to be calling on MPs to come forward with proposals to halt Brexit in a tweet in which he asked: “If a deal is impossible, and no-one wants no deal, then who will finally have the courage to say what the only positive solution is?”

  • Germany

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel believes there is still time for negotiations between the EU and Britain.

Merkel told reporters in Berlin that “we will of course do everything to find an orderly solution, but we are also prepared if there is no orderly solution.”

“We still have time to negotiate, but we are now waiting to see what the British prime minister proposes”, she said.

But, Germany’s foreign minister took a stronger view, saying “the time for little games is now over.”

Heiko Maas suggested British lawmakers who voted against the deal negotiated by Mrs May should recognise the importance of the issue, adding that ”we need a solution, and we need it quickly.“

He dismissed a better deal could be negotiated, saying ”if there was anything else one could have offered Britain it would have had to have been done in the last weeks.“

  • France

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The Associated Press has reported a top official at the French presidency said Europeans would make no concessions on Brexit that would damage the European Union's core principles, including the integrity of the single market.

Speaking anonymously, he said “nobody believes” the European Union would now be “weak and febrile.”

''And I don't think Theresa May believes it“, he added.

  • Russia

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Russia's foreign minister insists Moscow is not taking any side in Brexit.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Sergey Lavrov rejected allegations that Russia was gloating in the turmoil, saying that Russia is interested in seeing a “united, strong and, most importantly, independent European Union.”

He reaffirmed Russia would stand ready to develop ties with Britain and the EU whatever the outcome.