’Finalise Preparations for No Deal,’ Barnier Tells UK, as May Asks for Brexit Delay

Chief EU negotiator for Brexit, Michel Barnier addresses a press conference at the end of a general affairs council on Article 50 negotiations with the United Kingdom at the Euroepan Commission in Brussels on March 19, 2019. (Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP) (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty
VICTORIA FRIEDMAN

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has told the UK to “finalise preparations for no deal” after Prime Minister Theresa May announced that she is set to ask the bloc to delay Brexit.

Speaking to media on Tuesday afternoon, Mr Barnier acknowledged that while last week the House of Commons had voted to take no deal off the table, “Voting against no deal does not prevent it from happening.

“Everyone should now finalise preparations for a no-deal scenario.”

“On the EU side, we are prepared,” the French bureaucrat continued. “The European Parliament and Council have approved nearly all the contingency measures and are working on the two last measures that still need to be adopted, namely on short-term visas and the EU budget for 2019.”

Brussels and European leaders had made it clear to Prime Minister May after she lost her second vote on the Withdrawal Agreement that the UK should prepare to make a clean break on the planned departure date of March 29th.

However, Mrs May refuses to accept a no deal and continues to ignore the promises of the EU, whose bureaucrats seem at present to be more willing than the UK’s prime minister to fulfil the terms of Article 50 and the will of the British people by delivering Brexit at the end of this month.

After Speaker John Bercow shot down her third attempt at a House of Commons vote on Monday, the prime minister announced she would be formally writing to European Commission President Donald Tusk to seek an extension to Article 50.

The prime minister will then head to a summit in Brussels on Thursday, in order to persuade the EU’s 27 other leaders to agree unanimously to the Brexit delay, which could reportedly last for a year.

European leaders have maintained that a delay would only be granted if Mrs May had a plan, with Mr Barnier reiterating the point this afternoon, saying, “What would be the purpose and outcome of an extension, and how can we be sure that at the end of a possible extension we are not now back at the same situation as today?

“In any case, the European Commission will need to assess what is in the best interest in the EU. Extending without a clear plan will add to the economic cost to our businesses and a political cost for the EU. It is up to the British government to decide very quickly what the UK wants to do next,” Mr Barnier concluded.

Attempts of Remainer MPs in recent weeks to stop Brexit have been labelled meaningless by leading Eurosceptics, with Jacob Rees-Mogg reminding Parliamentarians that votes against no deal and for a delay are not binding and leaving without a deal on March 29th remains to legal default position.

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