EU leaders react to UK's Brexit vote — as it happened

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said there was still "time to negotiate" with the UK after parliament rejected Theresa May's Brexit deal. Leaders across the EU urged London to make up its mind on the way forward.
  • Politicians across the EU demanded that the UK provide clarity on Brexit after lawmakers in London voted down a draft divorce deal
  • Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel said there was still "time to negotiate" but British Prime Minister Theresa May would need to come up with a proposal
  • No one wants a "no deal Brexit," but the option is getting closer, said the EU's economy commissioner

All updates in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)

Politics | 16.01.2019

12:57 German business newspaper Handelsblatt reported that the EU could make further concessions in a Brexit deal, but that any measures would require support from Ireland. Handelsblatt cited unnamed diplomatic sources in Brussels.

12:56 British Prime Minister Theresa May refused to back down on the UK's exit from the European Union while being questioned in British parliament a day after her draft deal was rejected.

"The government's policy is that we are leaving the European Union on the 29th of March. But the EU would only extend Article 50 if actually it was clear that there was a plan that was moving towards an agreed deal," May said.

Read more: Brexit: What happens next?

12:06 German Justice Minister Katarina Barley said an extension for Brexit day is possible, but the British government must first put forward proposals.

"The clear rejection of the withdrawal agreement by the British House of Commons puts us in a very difficult situation," Barley said.

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DW News | 16.01.2019

Peter Mandelson: "For this deal, the game is up'

11:47 The EU states could agree to extend the Brexit deadline if the UK "provides the reasons for such an extension," said the EU Commission chief spokesman Margaritis Schinas. He added that the agreed terms of the UK's departure could not be reworked, but left some leeway on more peripheral issues, such as a political declaration on trade after Brexit.

"We are always ready to meet and to talk but ... the withdrawal agreement -- and, I repeat, the withdrawal agreement -- agreed by the 27 and the United Kingdom, is not open for renegotiation."

11:35 Commenting on her phone call with Prime Minister Theresa May, Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that it was "not obvious (May) has any real idea what to do next."

"The bare minimum she must do now is seek extension of Article 50 to stop the clock."

Read more: Scotland wants to avoid Brexit but doesn't know how

11:33 EU Commission said that the UK has not yet requested any extension of the Brexit deadline as March 29 looms.

11:22 Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said moving the March 29 Brexit deadline would only be considered if London suggested an orderly strategy and a plan.

"If it is necessary to gain time, we should consider this possibility," he said in Vienna.

Brexit timeline: Charting Britain's turbulent exodus from Europe

June 2016: 'The will of the British people'

After a shrill referendum campaign, nearly 52 percent of British voters opted to leave the EU on June 24. Polls had shown a close race before the vote with a slight lead for those favoring remaining in the EU. Conservative British Prime Minister David Cameron, who had campaigned for Britain to stay, acknowledged the 'will of the British people' and resigned the following morning.

Brexit timeline: Charting Britain's turbulent exodus from Europe

July 2016: 'Brexit means Brexit'

Former Home Secretary Theresa May replaced David Cameron as prime minister on July 11 and promised the country that "Brexit means Brexit." May had quietly supported the remain campaign before the referendum. She did not initially say when her government would trigger Article 50 of the EU treaty to start the two-year talks leading to Britain's formal exit.

Brexit timeline: Charting Britain's turbulent exodus from Europe

March 2017: 'We already miss you'

May eventually signed a diplomatic letter over six months later on March 29, 2017 to trigger Article 50. Hours later, Britain's ambassador to the EU, Tim Barrow, handed the note to European Council President Donald Tusk. Britain's exit was officially set for March 29, 2019. Tusk ended his brief statement on the decision with: "We already miss you. Thank you and goodbye."

Brexit timeline: Charting Britain's turbulent exodus from Europe

June 2017: And they're off!

British Brexit Secretary David Davis and the EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, kicked off talks in Brussels on June 19. The first round ended with Britain reluctantly agreeing to follow the EU's timeline for the rest of the negotiations. The timeline split talks into two phases. The first settles the terms of Britain's exit and the second the terms of the EU-UK relationship post-Brexit.

Brexit timeline: Charting Britain's turbulent exodus from Europe

July-October 2017: Money, rights, and Ireland

The second round of talks in mid-July began with an unflattering photo of a seemingly unprepared British team. It and subsequent rounds ended with little progress on three phase one issues: How much Britain still needed to pay into the EU budget after it leaves, the post-Brexit rights of EU and British citizens, and whether Britain could keep an open border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Brexit timeline: Charting Britain's turbulent exodus from Europe

November 2017: May pays out?

Progress appeared to have been made after round six in early November with Britain reportedly agreeing to pay up to £50 billion (€57 billion/$68 billion) for the "divorce bill." May had earlier said she was only willing to pay €20 billion, while the EU had calculated some €60 billion euros. Reports of Britain's concession sparked outrage among pro-Brexit politicians and media outlets.

Brexit timeline: Charting Britain's turbulent exodus from Europe

December 2017: Go-ahead for phase two

Leaders of the remaining 27 EU members formally agreed that "sufficient progress" had been made to move on to phase 2 issues: the post-Brexit transition period and the future UK-EU trading relationship. While May expressed her delight at the decision, European Council President Tusk ominously warned that the second stage of talks would be "dramatically difficult."

Brexit timeline: Charting Britain's turbulent exodus from Europe

July 2018: Boris and David resign

British ministers appeared to back a Brexit plan at May's Chequers residence on July 6. The proposal would have kept Britain in a "combined customs territory" with the EU and signed up to a "common rulebook" on all goods. That went too far for British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson and Brexit Secretary Davis. They resigned a few days later. May replaced them with Jeremy Hunt and Dominic Raab.

Brexit timeline: Charting Britain's turbulent exodus from Europe

September 2018: No cherries for Britain

The Chequers proposal did not go down well either with EU leaders, who told her at a summit in Salzburg in late September that it was unacceptable. EU Council President Tusk trolled May on Instagram, where he captioned a picture of himself and May looking at cakes with the line: "A piece of cake perhaps? Sorry, no cherries." The gag echoed previous EU accusations of British cherry-picking.

Brexit timeline: Charting Britain's turbulent exodus from Europe

November 2018: Breakthrough in Brussels

EU leaders endorsed a 585-page draft divorce deal and political declaration on post-Brexit ties in late November. The draft was widely condemned by pro- and anti-Brexit lawmakers in the British Parliament only weeks earlier. Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab resigned along with several other ministers, and dozens of Conservative Party members tried to trigger a no-confidence vote in May.

Brexit timeline: Charting Britain's turbulent exodus from Europe

December 2018: May survives rebellion

In the face of unrelenting opposition, May postponed a parliamentary vote on the deal on December 10. The next day, she met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to seek reassurances that would, she hoped, be enough to convince skeptical lawmakers to back the deal. But while she was away, hard-line Conservative lawmakers triggered a no-confidence vote. May won the vote a day later.

Brexit timeline: Charting Britain's turbulent exodus from Europe

January 2019: Agreement voted down

UK parliament 432 to 202 against May's Brexit deal in a parliamentary vote on January 16. In response to the result, European Council President Donald Tusk suggested the only solution was for the UK to stay in the EU. Meanwhile, Britain's Labour Party called for a vote of no confidence in May, her second leadership challenge in as many months.

11:19 Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said that any sort of Brexit would be harmful.

"Nobody wins, everyone loses," he told EU lawmakers.

11:13 The EU can influence the UK's position by softening its demands on the so-called Irish backstop, said the UK ambassador to Berlin, Sebastian Wood.

The hot-button issue "might be the most important question in the coming days and weeks, and the EU can perhaps be a little helpful in that area," the envoy told the German public broadcaster ZDF.

Read more: Emotions run high as Brexit closes in

10:46 The UK could ask for a postponement of the Brexit end date in order to get a deal through its parliament, said Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. The EU would be ready to consider it in good faith, but would require concrete proposals and concessions from London.

"Then we would continue to spin around the same circle, nobody would be particularly thrilled," he told a Dutch TV broadcaster.

Read more: Brexit endgame: What you need to know

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DW News | 15.01.2019

May reacts to losing Brexit deal vote

10:29 Germany's parliament is set to discuss draft laws that would go into effect in the case of a no-deal Brexit tomorrow, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.

"We want to keep the damage — and there will in any event be damage when the UK leaves — to a minimum," she said.

10:10 German Chancellor Angela Merkel said there was still time for a deal with the UK, but added that Berlin is also prepared for no-deal Brexit.

"We still have time to negotiate" Merkel said. "But we are now waiting on what the British prime minister would propose."

9:56 Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said he regretted the defeat of the May deal.

"Europe needs to wait; there is nothing we can do," he while on visit to Bangkok. "The Czechs who live in Great Britain feel insecure."

9:50 Speaking to DW, the head of the EU Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee David McAllister commented on the issue of the so-called Irish backstop. The measure, which would temporarily keep Northern Ireland within the EU trade agreements, was one of the reasons for the UK deputies to vote the deal down.

"We don't want it to be really put in place," he said, adding that the "British side had the idea of the backstop and now they're blaming the European side (for) why it couldn't work."

Beyond Brexit: Why we love the British

We love the Royals

Queen Elizabeth II is Britain's longest reigning monarch. She has been Queen since 1952 and has come to symbolize continuity and stability, tradition and self-discipline. Walking two steps behind her is usually the love of her life, her husband Prince Philip. This year she turned 93, and he is 98.

Beyond Brexit: Why we love the British

We love pop music from Britain

The Rolling Stones: Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts, Keith Richards and Ron Wood pose at Havana Airport in Cuba. The veteran British band performed there for the first time on March 24, 2016 — writing music history.

Beyond Brexit: Why we love the British

We love the British capital and its sights

Tower Bridge in the center of London has been one of the city's most famous landmarks since 1894. London is among Europe's most popular travel destinations, drawing more than 30 million tourists each year.

Beyond Brexit: Why we love the British

We love British writers and the protagonists of their books

The adventures of the young wizard invented by J. K. Rowling have found fans all over the world. This picture shows Harry Potter, played by Daniel Radcliffe, in his second year of training at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Beyond Brexit: Why we love the British

We love beautiful British models

Naomi Campbell has been a key face in the international fashion business for almost three decades. Born in London, she was the first black model to be shown on the cover of French edition of Vogue magazine. She was one of the six models of the 1990s to be declared supermodels.

Beyond Brexit: Why we love the British

We love British humor

Few people can make us laugh like Rowan Atkinson, alias Mr. Bean, does. The Mr. Bean comedy series was produced from 1989 to 1995 and has a cult following.

Beyond Brexit: Why we love the British

We love Britain's great gardens and parks

Kew Gardens in southwestern London are one of the world's oldest botanic gardens. The British are famous for their gardening skills and are regarded as experts in cultivating immaculate lawns. Arguably, no other country in Europe has such lovely gardens.

Beyond Brexit: Why we love the British

We love British style

The focus is not on speed, but on elegance and class. The famous British understatement is also evident in Britain's luxury cars, like the Rolls-Royce. The company was bought by Germans, but it remains a British classic.

Beyond Brexit: Why we love the British

We love their somewhat strange taste

There are certainly other European countries that are more famous for their cuisine. But if the British don't leave us, we'll never complain about their warm beer or lamb with mint sauce again. We promise!

Beyond Brexit: Why we love the British

We love their traditions

The British taught us how enjoyable sightseeing can be. London's double-decker buses are more than a means of transportation. They still characterize the appearance of the British metropolis on the Thames.

9:24 Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said that the ball was now with the UK parliament in London.

"At any case, there would be no additional negotiations about the exit accord," he tweeted.

Read more: Brexit deal: EU bids sad farewell to United Kingdom 

9:18 "Preparations for all scenarios will continue and be intensified, including the inauspicious scenario of a withdrawal without a deal on March 29," said Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

9:13 French President Emmanuel Macron told British leaders to "figure it out yourselves" and wished them "good luck" following the outcome of the UK vote on the deal.

He also said that some sort of a transition deal would need to be negotiated because "the British cannot afford to no longer have planes taking off or landing at home, and their supermarkets, as much as 70 percent, are supplied by continental Europe."

9:00  "Please, please, please tell us finally what you want to achieve," urged German conservative Manfred Weber, the leader of the center-right bloc in the EU parliament, addressing the UK authorities. 

Read more: Brexit vote defeat increases no-deal fears for UK car industry

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DW News | 16.01.2019

UK Parliament rejects May's Brexit deal by record margin

8:52 The EU would "respond favorably" if the UK agreed to change its "red lines" for the exit talks, says the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier.

8:48 EU Council president Donald Tusk seemed to hint that the UK should cancel Brexit.

"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?" he tweeted.

8:38 Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that the EU was "preparing for all scenarios."

"Despite this setback, it does not mean we are in a no-deal situation," he said.

8:32 EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker desribed that the agreement negotiated with Theresa May had been "the best possible deal." He also urged the UK to clarify their intentions as soon as possible.

"Time is almost up," he posted on Twitter.

8:31 The UK could still hold a second referendum that would allow it to stay in the EU, He Economy Commissioner Pierre Moscovici told France 2 TV channel.

He also warned that "no-one wants a 'no-deal' Brexit, but we are getting close to this."

8:29 Germany's Economy Minister Peter Altmeier says that no-one wanted "chaos", but there would be no major changes to the deal between UK Prime Minister Theresa May and the EU.

"The substance of the deal is non-negotiable", he told the German public broadcaster ZDF.

8:14 The UK parliament should decide on the way forward after nixing Brexit deal, Germany's top diplomat Heiko Maas said on Wednesday.

"We need a solution and we need it quickly" he told the public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk. "And the time for playing games is now over."

8:00 Hello there! Welcome to DW's rolling coverage of British parliament's refusal of the Withdrawal Agreement, a draft accord that British Prime Minister Theresa May had secured with the EU providing for an orderly withdrawal from the Union. However, that has all been thrown in the air now. Follow us for the latest from the UK and across Europe.

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TOP STORIES | 16.01.2019

Ifo institute suggests 'Swiss model' for post-Brexit Britain