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May and Juncker to hold more talks to break Brexit deadlock

Key Points
  • The leader of the U.K. and the EU's president have met in Brussels.
  • In a joint statement, the EU confirmed the current Withdrawal Agreement will not change.
  • The pair will meet again in February to discuss possible changes to the future relationship between the U.K. and the economic bloc.
Theresa May, U.K. prime minister, left, and Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, arrive ahead of talks in Brussels, Belgium, on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019.
Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

U.K. Prime Minister May and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker have jointly agreed to continue the discussion on breaking the impasse that surrounds the Brexit process.

In a statement issued Thursday, after a meeting in Brussels, the pair said that the "Political Declaration", which sets out the framework for the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom, would now be "more ambitious in terms of content and speed."

The text added that both sides would seek compromise that would "gain the broadest possible support in the U.K. Parliament and respect the guidelines agreed by the European Council."

The pair will meet again before the end of February to review what negotiating teams from both sides have drawn up.

Juncker's team cautioned however that any solution would have to be agreed by the European Parliament and leaders of the other 27 European member countries.

The EU also reiterated that a separate document known as the "Withdrawal Agreement" would not be reopened for discussion.

Some U.K. lawmakers who back Brexit want a safety net designed to prevent the return of a hard border in Northern Ireland, also known as the "backstop", to be removed from the "Withdrawal Agreement." They argue it could trap the U.K. into a customs union with the EU for an indeterminate period.

Shortly after the statement was issued, the Bank of England cautioned that the U.K. economy was facing its weakest economic growth in a decade because of Brexit uncertainty.

In reaction to the central bank's view, sterling fell 0.6 percent.