Eurocrats Talk of Rejecting Brexit Delay, Tells UK to Prepare for No Deal

Pro-Brexit activists march outside the Houses of Parliament in central London on February 27, 2019. - Prime Minister Theresa May will today face a vote by MPs over her newly revised Brexit strategy, which allows for a possible request to delay Britain's EU departure if her divorce deal is not …
TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty
VICTORIA FRIEDMAN

While Prime Minister Theresa May has opened the possibility of ruling out making a clean break of the EU and of extending Brexit, Eurocrats are telling Britain to get ready for a no deal exit on March 29th.

After Mrs May lost the second vote on her Withdrawal Agreement Tuesday night, defeated by 391 to 242 votes, the prime minister maintains that the UK should leave the EU with a deal. Tomorrow, MPs will vote on whether to leave without a deal on the 29th of March.

“If the House declines to approve leaving without a deal on the 29th of March, the Government will bring forward a motion on Thursday on whether Parliament wants to seek an extension to Article 50,” Mrs May said in the House of Commons after her defeat, adding, “If the House votes for an extension, the Government will seek to agree that extension with the EU, and bring forward the necessary legislation to change the exit date commensurate with that extension.”

However, while Mrs May believes that she could agree a delay to Brexit with the EU, a number of senior figures in Brussels have said that the EU and the UK should prepare for a no-deal instead.

Within minutes of Mrs May’s speech, chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said, “The EU has done everything it can to help get the Withdrawal Agreement over the line. The impasse can only be solved in the UK. Our ‘no-deal’ preparations are now more important than ever before.”

Spokesman for the European Council President Donald Tusk added that tonight’s vote had “significantly increased the likelihood of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit.”

“We will continue our no-deal preparations and ensure that we will be ready if such a scenario arises,” the president’s statement concluded.

Elmar Brok, the European Parliament’s longest serving MEP and influential figure in the European Parliament’s Brexit steering group also said that the UK was “very close” to a no deal and threw cold water on the suggestion that the EU’s 27 other member states would vote to let the UK extend Article 50, the vote needing to be unanimous.

The German lawmaker and ally of Angela Merkel said, “I do not know any reasons [for an extension]” and that both a short and long extension is “not possible” given that it would take the UK into another European Parliament with governing and budget obligations.

“They are very close to [a no deal]. They have to know that,” he told Sky News’s Mark Stone.

He also blamed Attorney General Geoffrey Cox and his legal assessment of May’s concessions from the EU on the Irish backstop — believed to have contributed the prime minister’s profound defeat — for the MPs throwing out the agreement, saying “Mr Cox killed it all because he is a Brexiteer. He wanted to kill it and there was no legal [basis] for what he did today.”

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte also said tonight that “With only 17 days left until March 29th, the Dutch government will keep working tirelessly to make sure the damage for… Dutch citizens living and working in the UK is minimised in the now more likely case of a no-deal Brexit.”

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