The EU has a track record of making last-minute changes to get deals approved. This has led some to assume that the same will be the case with Brexit.
Is this a reasonable assumption? To find out, it’s worth considering three notable occasions when the EU has attempted to assuage concerns expressed by or within member states in order to secure approval for a deal: the Maastricht Treaty, the Lisbon Treaty and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada.
Each case suggests that there’s no automatic reason to think the EU wouldn’t be open to revisiting the Withdrawal Agreement to help get it through the House of Commons.
What they also suggest, however, is that any such changes will adhere to certain principles: the existing text will not be reopened and any additions must be compatible with it.
There is a significant difference between where the UK now finds itself and the historical examples discussed here. In those cases, the problem seemed relatively manageable. The Danish public rejected the Maastricht treaty by 51% to 49%, and the Irish said no to the Lisbon Treaty by 53% to 47%.
With CETA, almost three-quarters of lawmakers in the Walloon regional assembly in Belgium voted against the deal the first time. However, the regional president Paul Magnette made clear the ultimate intention was not to veto the agreement, and it eventually passed with the support of over 90% of Walloon MPs.