Brexit: No-deal more likely but can be avoided – Barnier

A no-deal Brexit is now more likely but can still be avoided, the EU’s chief negotiator has said.

Michel Barnier said he saw three ways forward after MPs failed to agree on the latest Brexit proposals – no deal, a long extension or the PM’s deal.

“No deal was never our desire or intended scenario but the EU 27 is now prepared,” Mr Barnier said. “It becomes day after day more likely.”

Theresa May is preparing for five hours of cabinet talks on Tuesday.

MPs voted on four alternatives to the prime minister’s withdrawal deal, but none gained a majority.

A customs union with the EU was rejected by three votes while a motion for another referendum got the most votes in favour, but still lost.

The UK is due to leave the EU on 12 April but could yet seek an extension.

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay told MPs that if they wanted to secure a further delay from the EU, the government must be able to put forward a “credible proposition” as to what it would do.

Mr Barnier added that any extension carried “significant risks for the EU” and that a “strong justification would be needed” before the EU would agree.

One suggestion has been the possibility of a general election – but former foreign secretary Boris Johnson told BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg that would likely “infuriate” voters.

Instead, Mr Johnson said he believed a new leader and “change in negotiation tactic” could “retrofit” the PM’s “terrible” agreement with the EU.

MP Hilary Benn, Labour chairman of the Brexit select committee told BBC Radio 4’s Today that a confirmatory referendum was the best solution.

“Fear is that the PM is not going to move an inch. That is why we are at a moment of crisis, ” he said.

“A good leader would be taking that decision and put it back to the people.”

The so-called indicative votes on Monday night were not legally binding, but they had been billed as the moment when Parliament might finally compromise.

That did not happen, however, and one Tory MP – Nick Boles, who was behind one of the proposals – resigned the whip in frustration.

He later tweeted that he would remain an MP and sit in the Commons as “an Independent Progressive Conservative”.

Source: BBC

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