No-deal Brexit 'closer than ever' warns Donald Tusk
A no-deal Brexit is “closer than ever”, EU Council president Donald Tusk has warned.
In a gloomy assessment of the state of the negotiations, he said the European Commission was stepping up its preparations for the UK crashing out without an withdrawal agreement in place.
His comments, in a letter to all EU leaders ahead of a crunch Brussels summit this week, came as talks remain deadlocked over the Irish border issue.
Mr Tusk said progress in the talks since the last summit in Salzburg have “proven to be more complicated than some may have expected”.
But he called on the leaders to “not give up” despite the current impasse.
He said: “We should remain hopeful and determined, as there is good will to continue these talks on both sides.
“But at the same time, responsible as we are, we must prepare the EU for a no-deal scenario, which is more likely than ever before.”
He added: “The fact that we are preparing for a no-deal scenario must not, under any circumstances, lead us away from making every effort to reach the best agreement possible, for all sides.
“This is what our state of mind should be at this stage. As someone rightly said: 'It always seems impossible until it's done.' Let us not give up.”
Mr Tusk also confirmed that Mrs May will address the 27 other EU leaders on Wednesday evening to give her assessment of the current state of the negotiations.
She will then leave while they hold talks of their own over dinner.