A statement by GUE/NGL President Gabi Zimmer on Theresa May’s March 2nd speech on Brexit: 

“Anyone expecting the promised ‘real step forward’ must be disappointed right now.”

“Theresa May did not come up with a coherent proposal on how to concretely translate the political deal of last December into a binding agreement – as requested in the last European Parliament resolution and in the Council guidelines of 15th December 2017.

“Just repeating that there will be no hard border in Ireland does not make it a reality.

“She dreams of a special treatment for the United Kingdom in the coming future whilst forgetting that she must deliver on the initial promises. Stating that this is not cherry picking does not make it a realistic negotiating option.

“The European Parliament agreed to move onto the second phase of the negotiations only if the UK government fully respects its commitments.

“Her speech gave us no sign as to how May wants to achieve this and does not bring the urgently needed dynamic to the negotiation process. 

“We regret to acknowledge that the British government is seemingly heading towards a cliff edge scenario.

“We call on Theresa May to avoid this worst case scenario and to start negotiating in good faith.

“If we want to have an agreement by March 2019, Michel Barnier has to put pressure on Theresa May – which he is doing.

“However, the weaker points of the December deal are – of course – reflected in this proposal.

“We do have still major concerns regarding the border in Ireland and on citizens' rights.

“The proposed withdrawal agreement seeks to avoid physical infrastructure on the border in Ireland. But the proposal restricts the open border regime to goods. If services are excluded from the agreement then there is a potential for serious economic damage to the border region. 

“More clarity is also needed concerning the rights of citizens in the north of Ireland which are protected by the proposed withdrawal agreement, including the rights of (non-British and non-Irish) citizens of other EU member states.

“The text restricts the freedom of movement of British citizens within the EU, as British citizens living in one EU member state cannot move to another EU member state.

“Many British citizens in the EU and EU citizens in the UK moved with a clear understanding of what rights they have. Therefore, there should be no regression on the full set of rights currently enjoyed by EU and UK citizens.”

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