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Fri, 10 July 2020

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EU chief Guy Verhofstadt says Britain staring into 'abyss' after MPs fail to back Brexit alternatives

EU chief Guy Verhofstadt says Britain staring into 'abyss' after MPs fail to back Brexit alternatives
2 min read

Britain is facing "the abyss" of a no-deal exit from the European Union after MPs rejected all four alternatives to Theresa May's deal, the European Parliament's Brexit coordinator has warned.

Guy Verhofstadt said a hard Brexit had become "nearly inevitable" after MPs failed to get behind a plan in the latest round of indicative votes.

The European Union has given Britain until 12 April to get behind Theresa May's Brexit deal, which has been rejected by the House of Commons three times.

After Monday night's indicative votes failed to produce a winner, Mr Verhofstadt tweeted: "The House of Commons again votes against all options.

"A hard Brexit becomes nearly inevitable. On Wednesday, the UK has a last chance to break the deadlock or face the abyss."

MPs will again take control of parliamentary business on Wednesday in an attempt to break the deadlock, having on Monday night struggled to come up with a majority for either a second referendum, a customs union, a Norway-style soft Brexit or a plan to hand Parliament the power to halt a no-deal outcome by revoking Article 50.

Conservative grandee Ken Clarke's proposal for a customs union with the European Union came closest to passing on Monday, having been rejected by just three votes.


The stark warning from Mr Verhofstadt came as Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, lashed out at former prime minister David Cameron for kicking off the Brexit process by calling the 2016 referendum.

Mr Juncker accused the ex-Tory leader of refusing to allow the European Commission to make the case for Britain staying inside the bloc, and branded Mr Cameron - who tried to stop the EU chief from becoming president in 2014 - "one of the great destroyers of modern times".

He told a regional parliament in Germany: "We were forbidden from being present in any way in the referendum campaign by Mr Cameron, who is one of the great destroyers of the modern era.

"Because he said the commission is even less popular in the UK than it is in other EU member states. If we had been able to take part in this campaign, we could have asked - and also answered - many questions that are only being asked now."