Delusional! Luxembourg takes swipe at Tory leader hopefuls planning Brexit renegotiation

A number of candidates to replace Theresa May have said the European bloc should reopen divorce negotiations, but the suggestion has been forcefully dismissed by Brussels.

“Independently of the name of the new prime minister, we have an agreement. It is to take or to leave,” Mr Asselborn told reporters. 

He added that while some elements could be reviewed, the main issues – namely the Irish backstop and citizens’ rights – were not up for renegotiation and had already been sealed.

Mr Asselborn added: “Those who say they can renegotiate this deal are wrong.” 

Almost three years since Britain voted to exit the bloc, the country, parliament and both the Labour and Tory parties remain deeply divided over how, when and even if Brexit should happen.

A Brexit cloud hangs over the Conservative leadership race, with several of the candidates saying Britain should exit the EU without a deal. 

Boris Johnson, the face of the official Leave campaign, is among those who have promised to lead the UK out of the EU on October 31 “deal or no deal”. 

The former London mayor has also raised concern among EU leaders by threatening to hold back the £39billion divorce bill owed to Brussels. 

Mr Johnson, the favourite to replace Mrs May, won the support of 114 conservative MPs in the first round of the leadership contest last week. A total of 313 voted. 

His nearest rivals were: foreign minister Jeremy Hunt, who won 43 votes, environment minister Michael Gove, with 37 votes, and former Brexit minister Dominic Raab on 27 votes. 

Mr Hunt, for his part, has voiced hope that EU leaders would agree to reopen the divorce talks with a new British leader.  

“Our failure to deliver Brexit has put our country and our party in grave peril. The leadership I offer is based on one simple truth: without Brexit there will be no Conservative government and maybe no Conservative Party,” he said last week. 

“If we want a deal we are going to have to engage seriously with Brussels. From my conversations with European leaders, it is clear to me there is a deal to be done, they want us to come up with proposals.” 

He reiterated his call for a new deal on Sunday, telling the BBC the EU “would be willing to renegotiate” because “they want to solve the problem”.

“They say if they were approached by a British prime minister who had ideas on how to solve the Northern Ireland backstop, they would be willing to renegotiate the package,” he added.

Mr Hunt also said it would be wrong to commit to exiting the bloc by the October 31 deadline, but that he would be prepared to crash out of the EU “if there was no prospect of a deal”. 

Parliament has repeatedly stressed it will try to stop a no deal Brexit. 

The EU bloc has been “crystal clear… there will be no renegotiation,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said before a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels last month. 

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