The European Union's chief negotiator has again warned that the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement is the only way to stop the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal.
Michel Barnier issued the warning after a "good meeting" with the Tánaiste in Brussels this afternoon.
The Withdrawal Agreement negotiated with the UK is the only way to achieve an orderly Brexit," he tweeted.
It is also the best way for starting our common work on a new EU-UK partnership.
Good to see @simoncoveney again; we had a good meeting. The Withdrawal Agreement negotiated with the UK is the only way to achieve an orderly #Brexit. It is also the best way for starting our common work on a new EU-UK partnership. pic.twitter.com/IaQfg3P1oS
— Michel Barnier (@MichelBarnier) July 19, 2019
Speaking after the meeting, Minister Coveney said it will be up to the next UK Prime Minister to prevent a no deal exit.
"I think the only person who can answer the question on the likelihood of a no deal is the next British Prime Minister and we are going to have to wait and see who that is," he said.
He said the EU position on Brexit has remained consistent throughout.
"We stand ready to work with a new British Prime Minister as soon as they are in place to try to ensure that we have an orderly and managed Brexit and to ensure that we avoid a no deal Brexit," he said.
"But I think it is very clear and it was stated again by Chancellor Merkel today, that the withdrawal agreement is the withdrawal agreement.
"There are other things that can change and be adapted - particularly the future relationship declaration - but the withdrawal agreement is not up for re-negotiation and both Michel Barnier and I were very clear on that today."
— Chris Donoghue (@chrisrdonoghue) July 19, 2019
Earlier Chancellor Merkel noted that while the Withdrawal Agreement could not be changed, it may be possible to ensure it never comes into force by rewriting the political declaration on the future relationship between the two sides.
Recalling UK Prime Minister Theresa May's infamous phrase "Brexit means Brexit," she said: "The withdrawal agreement is the withdrawal agreement."
She said Brexiteer fears about the backstop could be calmed by drafting the text of the political declaration "more specifically and better and more succinctly than we have managed to date."