EU Leaders Plot to Extend Article 50 Negotiations to Stop Clean Brexit, Tusk Threatens ‘No Brexit’


European Union leaders are plotting to offer an extension to the Article 50 Brexit divorce negotiations, to stop Britain making a clean “no deal” break from the bloc if the Prime Minister’s deal fails in Parliament.

The EU could extend Britain’s membership until July to allow time for either a second referendum or to agree on a Norway-style “soft” Brexit, with the United Kingdom locked into the EU Single Market and its Free Movement regime, according to plans reported by The Times.

On Wednesday in Brussels, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier insisted Britain would not be able to renegotiate the withdrawal deal agreed by Mrs May and EU leaders.

He told MEPs: “Given the difficult circumstances of this negotiation and given the extreme complexity of all the issues of the British withdrawal, the treaty that is on the table is the only deal possible.”

The Prime Minister, meanwhile, ruled out on Thursday a Norway-style divorce and accused Labour of forcing a “no deal” Brexit by declining to give its backing to her deal.

She said: “You talk about if a Norway-style strategy would bring Labour along with it – if you look at the Labour Party amendment that they’ve put down to the motion on December 11, actually what they are doing is advocating rejecting the deal we’ve negotiated with the European Union without having any proper alternatives.

“They say they don’t want no deal, but by appearing to reject a temporary backstop, they are effectively advocating no deal. Without a backstop, there is no deal.”

The President of the European Council, meanwhile, issued a separate threat on Friday, warning MPs that if they reject Mrs May’s withdrawal agreement, they could even up with no Brexit at all.

Speaking from the G20 summit in Argentina, Donald Tusk said: “A few days before the vote in the House of Commons, it is becoming more and more clear that this deal is the best possible – in fact the only possible one.

“If this deal is rejected in the Commons we are left with, as was already stressed a few weeks ago by Prime Minister May, an alternative – no deal or no Brexit at all.

“I want to reassure you that the EU is prepared for every scenario.”

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