EU preparing for possible collapse of Brexit talks
The European Union’s chief negotiator says the bloc is preparing for the possible collapse of Brexit negotiations with Britain and is making contingency plans in this regard.
Michel Barnier made the remarks while talking to French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche on Sunday, days after giving Britain a two-week deadline to clarify its position on key issues.
He said that the failure of negotiations was a “possibility” but went on to clarify that he did not want such an outcome.
“It’s a possibility. Everyone needs to plan for it, member states and businesses alike. We too are making technical preparations for it. On March 29, 2019, the United Kingdom will become a third country,” he told the newspaper.
“A failure of the negotiations would have consequences on multiple domains,” he added.
Last Friday, Barnier told Britain that it had just two weeks to make its position clear on the Brexit divorce bill or the EU could block a transition deal with the country.
“We want to reach an agreement [with the UK] within the next 14 working days. Today, we are not there. The rendezvous will be postponed if progress is not sufficient,” he stated.
Britain has said that London is willing to offer the other 27 EU members “further assurance” on its divorce before the next summit in December.
Britain has also expressed its willingness to pay up to 40 billion euros to the bloc as it wanted considerable progress on settling Britain’s liabilities before Brexit talks resumed.
But, Barnier has said that the two sides are stuck in a “disturbing deadlock” over the divorce bill.
Britain’s Brexit Secretary David Davis has said it is in the interests of both sides “to work to find solutions.”
On Friday, Davis claimed good progress was being made by negotiators, and that the talks had narrowed to a “few outstanding, albeit important, issues.”
Barnier has said Britain must increase its financial offer before negotiators will move on to discuss the future trading relationship with the EU.
EU leaders have been increasingly frustrated about divisions in Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet over Brexit, saying they were still unsure what Britain wanted, even after five rounds of negotiations.
The slow progress of Brexit talks has fueled fears that May’s government may collapse, or worse that London may fail to strike a withdrawal agreement with Brussels before its formal exit from the EU on March 29, 2019, which could cause economic and transport turmoil in Britain and EU.
40 MPs ready to oust Theresa May
Meantime, nearly 40 Conservative MPs ( Member of Parliament) have agreed to sign a letter of no confidence in Prime Minister Theresa May, according to The Times.
A vote of no confidence means that May could be forced from office and replaced by another Conservative.
There is a need for eight more MPs to trigger a party leadership contest. That is not unlikely as the number of parliament members, who want to oust May, has increased in recent weeks.
One minister told the paper, “It’s a horrible thing to say... but we are getting closer and closer to the point whereby we need some time in opposition to regroup.”
Divided over how to pull Britain out of the European Union and hit by several sex scandals involving ministers, May’s government has been getting weaker in asserting control over the country’s chaotic political situation