EU foreign ministers hope British parliament approves Brexit deal

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FILE PHOTO: Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell waits for Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov before a meeting at the foreign ministry in Madrid

FILE PHOTO: Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell waits for Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov before a meeting at the foreign ministry in Madrid, Spain, November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Sergio Perez/File Photo

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union's foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday said they hoped the UK parliament would approve in a vote on Tuesday the bloc's Brexit deal negotiated by British Prime Minister Theresa May.

A day before the vote in the House of Commons, Ireland's Simon Coveney said the tentative Brexit deal "is not going to change". Britain's Jeremy Hunt warned of "real risks" if the agreement is voted down.

As the ministers were arriving for talks, the EU's top court ruled that Britain could unilaterally revoke its decision to leave the bloc, without the consent of the other 27 EU states.

"This is the best deal we can have," Spain's Josep Borrell told journalists on entering the meeting. "This is the best deal and approving this deal would be a good thing, but for sure it's up to them."

Germany's Haiko Maas echoed that: "I hope that good decisions will be taken this week in London, employing the utmost reason."

Britain is due to leave the bloc on March 29 but there is broad opposition to May's deal among British lawmakers. If the deal is voted down on Tuesday, it could mean more negotiations, delaying Brexit or ousting May, among other possibilities.

While the bloc has insisted the deal would not be reopened, Coveney's remarks point to the possibility of tweaking the political declaration on the future EU-UK ties that accompanies the legal withdrawal treaty.

In any case, the Irish backstop - a key point of contention - would remain an essential part of the agreement, Coveney said.

EU national leaders will discuss the matter when they meet in Brussels on Thursday and Friday.

The most damaging scenario for both sides would see Britain crashing out of the bloc with no agreement to mitigate the disruption in trade, economy and security cooperation.

Belgium's Didier Reynders said the EU was ready to move ahead with the tentative deal, but added: "Or, we'll manage a no-deal."


(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska and Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)