The French negotiator blamed MPs for the “uncertainty” around Britain’s EU divorce with the deal agreed between the Prime Minister and European leaders no closer to being signed off by the Commons. Despite only 30 days until Britain’s official departure date, Mr Barnier believes Mrs May’s draft EU withdrawal deal can be completed. His intervention comes after the Prime Minister announced he would seek a “short, limited extension” to the EU’s Article 50 exit clause if MPs once again rejected her Brexit deal and also a no-deal divorce.
Speaking on French television, an irate Mr Barnier brandished a report into the potential damage caused by no deal, and said: “Brexit has consequences and I have said it from the first day of my appointment.
“The consequences are countless. Human and social for citizens. Economic and financial. Technical and legal. They are countless. They have been underestimated, especially on the British side.
“It is precisely because there is a lot of uncertainty and problems that we have done this document that I have here.
“Six-hundred pages where, for hundreds of subjects, we propose legal answers where Brexit, like all divorces, creates uncertainties.”
But the EU’s chief negotiator is confident the Commons will eventually agree to the terms of the Brexit deal in the next ‘Meaningful Vote’, which is scheduled for March 12.
He said: “I think we can save this deal and that the British will approve it.”
Mr Barnier insisted despite efforts by Mrs May to rule out a no-deal divorce, a hard Brexit remains a “possibility but not a probability”.
He said: “It is not accurate to say that the no deal is the most likely scenario. It’s a possibility.
“The no deal is not my option, but it is a risk that gets worse, as the days go by and we get closer to March 30, the date chosen by the British to leave because they did not approve the negotiated agreement.”
He added: “The French government has taken many concrete and precise measures to prepare. It is not the only one. The Irish, Dutch, Belgian government as well… everyone is prepared for this scenario that no one wants, but we will be ready.”
Addressing the Commons yesterday, Mrs May announced the next meaningful vote will be held on March 12 and set out the next steps if her deal is once again crushed by MPs.
If the Brexit deal falls, MPs the following day will be asked if they support a no-deal Brexit. If MPs cannot form a majority for leaving the EU without an agreement, they will then be asked to vote on a Government motion on “whether Parliament wants to seek a short, limited extension to Article 50”.
Mrs May told MPs: “An extension beyond the end of June would mean the UK taking part in the European parliament elections. What kind of message would that send to the more than 17 million people who voted to leave the EU nearly three years ago now?
“And the House should be clear that a short extension – not beyond the end of June – would almost certainly have to be a one-off. If we had not taken part in the European parliament elections, it would be extremely difficult to extend again, so it would create a much sharper cliff-edge in a few months’ time.
“An extension cannot take no-deal off the table. The only way to do that is to revoke Article 50, which I shall not do, or agree a deal.”
Published at Wed, 27 Feb 2019 08:01:00 +0000