Europe reacts to Prime Minister’s Brexit deal defeat

European leaders and senior EU figures have reacted with disappointment at the defeat of Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

The House of Commons rejected the EU Withdrawal Agreement by an overwhelming majority – 391 voted against the deal compared to 242 in favour.

Several said a no-deal Brexit was now more likely and preparations for that scenario would be “intensified”.

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier tweeted on Tuesday night: “The EU has done everything it can to help get the Withdrawal Agreement over the line.

“The impasse can only be solved in the #UK. Our ‘no-deal’ preparations are now more important than ever before.”

Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit negotiator, said the UK has “spiralled out of control”.

Sharing an image on Twitter of a man and woman kissing with their faces painted separately in Union Flag and EU flag colours, he wrote: “Brexit was about taking back control, instead the UK spiralled out of control.

“Only cross-party cooperation putting Country first, can end this mess. If this happens we will fully engage.”

Meanwhile, Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said he would “intensify” his country’s no-deal preparations.

He wrote on Twitter: “Deeply saddened by the outcome of the #Brexit vote this evening.

“Despite clear EU assurances on the backstop, we now face a chaotic #NoDeal #Brexit scenario. And time is almost up. We will intensify our #NoDeal preparation.”

Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte said a no-deal Brexit was now more likely and a “solution must come from London”.

He wrote on Twitter: “ I regret the outcome of tonight’s #Brexitvote.

“It is disappointing that the UK government has been unable to ensure a majority for the Withdrawal Agreement agreed by both parties in November, even after multiple additional assurances from the EU.”

He added the Dutch government would “keep working tirelessly to make sure the damage” for Dutch citizens living and working in the UK was “minimised in the now more likely case of a no-deal #Brexit”.

Elsewhere, Prime Minister of Spain Pedro Sanchez tweeted: “We regret the decision of the British Parliament despite the EU’s effort to achieve the best agreement.

“The European project must move forward to ensure freedom, stability and prosperity.”