Speaking ahead of the March European Council, which will be dominated by the looming Brexit deadline, S&D Group president Udo Bullmann and spokesperson for Brexit Roberto Gualtieri said:
“The UK leaving the EU is a tragic mistake that will have huge ramifications for generations to come. How damaging these effects are will depend on the decisions taken in the next week. Despite all the frustrations with the UK government, EU leaders must remain focused on the long-term effects of Brexit not short-term political calculation. The purpose of whatever extension is agreed is far more important than the length of the extension.
“Theresa May has again ducked her responsibilities putting her Party ahead of her nation. After the withdrawal agreement was rejected by an historic margin in January, we urged the Prime Minister to change course and work with Labour to build a solid majority for an agreement. Instead, she tried to appease the Brexiters in her own party, a strategy that resulted in a second historic defeat. EU leaders must not allow this to happen again.
“If the UK needs more time to resolve the current deadlock then this should be granted but with clear conditions. Theresa May must commit to working with other parties on an agreement that can get a broad majority in Parliament or let the British people decide through either new elections or a new referendum. If this means the UK has to take part in EU elections then so be it. Despite the complications involved, this is a minor issue compared to the consequences of the UK crashing out of the EU in a disorderly way.
“Our Group has always worked to ensure that whatever happens the rights of all EU citizens, whether they live in the UK or other EU states, are protected, and the peace process in Northern Ireland is upheld. These principles must remain at the forefront of national leaders’ minds in the coming days. Citizens should not pay the price for politicians' failure and their rights should be ring fenced in any scenario."