Brussels admits a no-deal Brexit looks 'increasingly likely'

Posted On: 
25th March 2019

The UK is "increasingly likely" to leave the EU without a deal next month, according to Brussels officials.

Parliament has until 12 April to approve the Brexit deal.
Credit: 
PA Images

Announcing that it has completed its no-deal preparations, the European Commssion urged EU citizens and businesses to be aware of the potential consequences of the UK leaviing without a withdrawal agreement in place.

The announcement follows the decision at last week's EU Council to extend the Brexit deadline until 22 May, on the condition that Theresa May's deal is passed by the Commons this week.

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But if MPs fail to back Theresa May's deal by then, the UK will then have until 12 April to come up with an alternative arrangment.

In a statement, the EU said: "As it is increasingly likely that the United Kingdom will leave the European Union without a deal on 12 April, the European Commission has today completed its 'no-deal' preparations.

"At the same time, it continues supporting administrations in their own preparations and urges all EU citizens and businesses to continue informing themselves about the consequences of a possible 'no-deal' scenario and to complete their no-deal preparedness.

"This follows the European Council (Article 50) conclusions last week calling for work to be continued on preparedness and contingency. While a 'no-deal' scenario is not desirable, the EU is prepared for it."

They point out that the UK leaving without a deal would mean there is no transition period, which they warn "will obviously cause significant disruption for citizens and businesses".

And the Commission adds: "The EU's contingency measures will not – and cannot – mitigate the overall impact of a 'no-deal' scenario, nor do they in any way compensate for the lack of preparedness or replicate the full benefits of EU membership or the favourable terms of any transition period, as provided for in the Withdrawal Agreement.

"These proposals are temporary in nature, limited in scope and will be adopted unilaterally by the EU. They are not 'mini-deals' and have not been negotiated with the UK. 

"The EU has maintained - and will continue to maintain - a fully united position throughout its preparations, and during any possible 'no-deal' period."

BOTCHED

A spokesperson for the People's Vote campaign said: "MPs have the option and opportunity this week to get the time needed to consider what Brexit really means and to avoid any immediate cliff edge. 

"They should take that chance and insist on a postponement of the Brexit deadline that is long enough to make a considered decision and to put it back to the people.

"They absolutely should reject the idea that the European elections are any sort of barrier to doing that. The cost of a botched Brexit will be many, many times greater than any elections."

Labour MP Virendra Sharma, of the pro-EU Best for Britain campaign, said: "Four days away from our originally scheduled departure date the EU are calling no deal an 'increasingly likely' scenario. Parliament has emphatically rejected no deal several times now - the Government must listen. 

“This is a dangerous game of brinkmanship, and businesses and families up and down the country are feeling the strain of this unprecedented uncertainty. 

“Parliament must be given the opportunity to vote for what outcome they want to see - not just keep voting for what we don’t want. It is imperative that this is put back to the people so that they can decide whether to go through with Brexit or call the whole thing off."