(Strasbourg) “To be or not be a member of the European Union?” – Melania Gabriela Ciot, representing the Council of Ministers of the European Union, cited Shakespeare to describe the current state of affairs between the EU and the UK, following yesterday’s vote in Westminster which once again rejected Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement. The problem, Ciot said at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, is that “we are not dealing with theatre, but with the real lives and jobs of EU and UK citizens”. Ciot reiterated that it is for the UK Parliament and Government to find a way out of the impasse. “However this should not be to the detriment of solidarity among Member States, especially as regards Ireland”. The representative of the Council confirmed the EU’s determination to “facilitate” an orderly withdrawal of the UK, but – she said – the backstop guarantee for the Irish border cannot be scrapped. It is a guarantee for a limited period”. “We remain open to talks” and dialogue with the British government. And she went on to add: the UK’s departure from the Union “looks likely to be postponed”. This postponement should be approved by the European Council next week, “but there must be a credible justification for a possible extension” of the UK’s deadline for leaving the EU. In the meantime, we have to “continue our preparations for all outcomes, including a no-deal scenario”.