The vote was a “crystal clear” rejection of the withdrawal deal, the E.U.’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, told the European Parliament on Wednesday.
“This vote is not a clear manifestation of a positive majority which would define a positive alternative to the proposal on the table today,” Barnier said. “It’s up to the British government to indicate how we ought to take things forward on March 29 toward an orderly withdrawal.”
But he said that the current agreement was the “objective” outcome based on Britain’s own red lines, including a vow to uphold the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that quelled a long-running insurgency in Northern Ireland. That agreement depends on an open border between the Republic of Ireland, which is remaining in the European Union, and Northern Ireland, which is departing the European Union along with the rest of the United Kingdom.