A statement by GUE/NGL President Gabi Zimmer, a member of the European Parliament’s Brexit Steering Group, on the UK House of Commons vote on Brexit 

The rejection of the Withdrawal Agreement by the House of Commons this evening clearly shows the huge failure of the British government. Since activating Article 50, Theresa May’s government has demonstrated that it was not able to adapt to the seriousness of the situation. Now a ‘no deal Brexit’ becomes very probable after this vote. We are extremely worried about the future situation and rights of the people who will be most affected, in particular EU citizens living in Britain.

We are worried as well about the possible negative effects a ‘no deal Brexit’ could have on the peace process in Ireland. The vote showed little regard for the obligation that Britain has under The Good Friday Agreement, which requires a special status for the North of Ireland. The British parliament and government must now be clear as to how they will uphold their commitments to the peace process.

We have watched closely the serious and intense debate in the House of Commons. This was not a simple rejection of the Withdrawal Agreement – what the debate has clearly shown are the deep divisions across party boundaries. Worryingly, it has almost not been mentioned that without a backstop solution, there are negative effects on the North of Ireland.

After years of Brexit negotiations, an agreement was finally reached with the British government for an orderly Brexit – a text that we will not renegotiate. This agreement was reached largely due to the patience of the EU negotiation leaders.

Whatever happens next, we call on the British government to assume its responsibility to protect citizens’ rights. They should immediately commit to maintaining at least those rights outlined in the Withdrawal Agreement.

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