European Parliament says backstop ‘cannot be renegotiated’ and calls for EU to step up no-deal planning

European Parliament chiefs have warned that the backstop in Theresa May’s Brexit deal cannot be renegotiated and urged the EU to intensify planning for a no-deal.

The conference of presidents, the leaders of the parliament’s main groups, said in a resolution adopted behind closed doors on Wednesday afternoon that MEPs would veto any deal without a backstop.

The Parliament is the latest part of the EU to rule out changing the deal struck with the UK in March, following similar statements by the Commission, Council, and a slew of key member states.

The group leaders agreed that “the withdrawal agreement and political declaration are fair and balance and represent, given EU principles, current UK red lines, and the commitments set out in the Good Friday Agreement, the only deal possible to secure an orderly withdrawal from the European Union”.

They also “stressed that renegotiating the backstop was not possible since it is the guarantee that in whatever circumstances there could be no hardening of the border on the island of Ireland.

The Conference reiterated that without a backstop “Parliament would not give its consent to the withdrawal agreement.”

Theresa May is set to come to Brussels on Thursday to discuss further concessions on the agreement with EU leaders.

The level of concessions demanded by Tory eurosceptics appears to be wildly out of line with what the EU is prepared to give, however.

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