January 18, 2019 / 3:52 PM / 6 months ago

Dutch PM to May - difficult to 'tweak' rejected Brexit deal

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe (not pictured) hold a joint news conference in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, January 9, 2019. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Friday he had told his British counterpart, Theresa May, he does not see how the current deal on Britain’s exit from the European Union can be “tweaked”.

Rutte said he had conveyed that message in a phone call on Thursday, two days after the deal was resoundingly rejected by the British parliament.

“I said: ‘I don’t see how the current deal can be tweaked’,” he told journalists. “She is really expecting Brexit to go ahead on March 29.”

Rutte said that any form of Brexit, with or without a deal, will damage the Netherlands, a major British trading partner and one of the world’s top five export countries.

“It will cause disruptions and we are trying to minimise those,” he said. “We need to look at the facts and prepare for all scenarios. Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.”

Among measures taken by the Dutch government is the hiring of roughly 1,000 customs officials to deal with changes in border checks.

“I appeal to social organisations, companies and institutions, if they have not done so already, to inform themselves about what must be done to be prepared. Time is running out. March 29 is only 10 weeks away.”

Reporting by Bart Meijer and Stephanie van den Berg; Writing by Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Robin Pomeroy

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