Britain is becoming more likely to crash out of the European Union (EU) without a proper withdrawal agreement, the bloc’s chief Brexit negotiator.
Michel Barnier said Tuesday that recent developments in the British parliament with regards to Prime Minister Theresa May’s divorce deal were paving the way for a no-deal scenario.
“Over the last days a no-deal scenario has become more likely, but we can still hope to avoid it,” Barnier said at an event in Brussels”.
The EU official said London had three choices before the April 12 leaving date: a no-deal Brexit, staying the EU’s customs union or maintaining a special relationship with the bloc similar to Norway.
“The UK should now indicate the way forward or indicate a plan,” Barnier said. “More today than ever.”
The remarks came after lawmakers in the UK’s House of Commons failed to approve an alternative plan to May’s divorce deal, which has been voted down three times.
Barnier noted that an alternative option for the Brits would be to accept the stalled deal negotiated by May, which he described as “the only way” for an orderly divorce.
Another option was a long delay of the UK’s leaving date, Barnier said, warning that the blame for the possible consequences of a delay would lie with the factious UK parliament.
Barnier said a postponing Brexit deadline for long would mean that London should organize European Parliament elections in May and name its representatives for the new European Commission.
The Frenchman said all of the EU’s 27 were ready for the UK’s abrupt split although the process was going to cause disruption.
“Being prepared for no-deal doesn’t mean that everything will be smooth. There will be disruptions, there will be problems. Being prepared means all unforeseen disruptions could be managed by the EU,” Barnier said.
EU leaders including May were going to meet in Brussels on April 10 to decide on the next step.