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We will never let the Irish down: Dublin and EU officials rule out 'renegotiation' of Brexit deal

Irish government to 'intensify' no deal preparations.

By Jonathan Bell

European Council president Donald Tusk announced that Brexit has been added to the agenda of the two-day EU summit taking place in Brussels on Thursday and Friday.

But he insisted: "We will not renegotiate the deal."

After discussing the day's developments over the phone, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's office also said there could be no renegotiation and preparations for a no deal would intensify.

Mr Tusk and his fellow European counterparts have ruled out reworking the withdrawal agreement - and the controversial backstop - as chaos descended at Westminster after Prime Minister Theresa May pulled the meaningful vote on the deal in the Commons.

EU officials have stressed any reassurances offered to the UK can not override or contradict the withdrawal agreement or the Irish backstop.

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds said "tinkering" with the Withdrawal agreement would not get through the House of Commons.

However, Mr Tusk did hint concessions may be accommodated saying they were ready to discuss how to help Theresa May get the home support needed for the deal.

Mr Tusk said in a tweet: "We will not renegotiate the deal, including the backstop, but we are ready to discuss how to facilitate UK ratification. As time is running out, we will also discuss our preparedness for a no-deal scenario."

That message was reinforced up by Irish European Affairs minister Helen McEntee.

"EU27 & UK Gov have spent 18 months negotiating a fair deal," she tweeted, "one with compromise on both sides that fulfills all commitments made. It can’t be renegotiated."

The European Parliament's Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt, as it was confirmed the Prime Minister was to defer the meaningful vote, said he "can't follow anymore."

"After two years of negotiations, the Tory government wants to delay the vote," he said on social media.

"Just keep in mind that we will never let the Irish down. This delay will further aggravate the uncertainty for people & businesses. It’s time they make up their mind."

In the House of Commons DUP East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson was scathing of the Prime Minister's negotiation skills. 

"The Prime Minister may be prepared to be humiliated by arrogant EU officials and by Irish politicians. But does she not realise every time she comes back here with her tail between her legs, she humiliates the British people," he said.

"When will she stand up to the EU?"

Mrs May said she had stood up to the EU and "stood firm" to ensure there would be no border in the Irish Sea and the UK "would not be split in two".

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