EU insists it didn’t change May’s deal for Johnson

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Jean-Claude Juncker

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Jean-Claude Juncker - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Brussels has dismissed Boris Johnson's claim to have negotiated an entirely new Brexit deal after he became prime minister, insisting it never reopened the withdrawal agreement.

The European Commission said on Wednesday the EU had simply made 'clarifications' to Theresa May's Brexit deal, and it had not amended it at all.

It goes against Downing Street's presentation of negotiations, as Boris Johnson hoped to get his agreement passed on the basis it is not the same as Theresa May's which was rejected three times in parliament.

"I'm not aware that we have amended the withdrawal agreement," a European Commission spokesperson told reporters on Wednesday afternoon.

"We have certainly made clarifications, but not amended."

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There are some differences in May and Johnson's agreements, notably the Northern Irish backstop negotiated by May would have kept the UK inside of the EU's customs territory while Johnson's does not.

According to The Independent, the Commission's claim may ne about trying to retain credibility, as for months Brussels insisted it would never reopent he withdrawal agreement.

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After reporters pointed out there were some differences, the spokesperson for the Commission said there were differing views about what constituted an agreement.

The spokesperson said: "What matters now is the latest European Council decision on 29 October which excludes any further reopening of the withdrawal agreement that we have spent negotiating for two years, and on the basis of which we granted an extension."

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