The European Union’s chief negotiator Michael Barnier on Tuesday indicated that the United Kingdom is likely to leave the bloc without a deal but said that the EU hoped to avoid it, The Guardian reported.
United Kingdom lawmakers on Monday had once again failed to find a majority on any alternative Brexit plan before them, 10 days before Britain’s departure from the European Union, BBC reported. The legislators have already rejected the Brexit deal three times.
The European Union has set an April 12 deadline for the United Kingdom to either agree to the exit terms that Prime Minister Theresa May has struck with the bloc, figure out an alternative or leave the bloc without a deal.
On Tuesday, Barnier said the United Kingdom had three choices before the April 12 deadline. The EU negotiator said Britain could sign an agreement this week on May’s deal or a variant of it, no deal, or a long extension to article 50 requiring “a strong justification”.
Barnier was speaking at an event in Brussels where he described the situation as a serious crisis. “The UK should now indicate the way forward or indicate a plan,” Barnier said, while adding that the bloc was willing to allow the United Kingdom to stay within its customs union or settle for an alliance similar to what Norway has with the EU.
The EU negotiator said that a postponement of Brexit would lead to the United Kingdom hosting and contesting the European Parliament elections in May. “Being prepared for no-deal doesn’t mean that everything will be smooth,” Reuters quoted Barnier as saying.
European Union leaders will meet in Belgium’s Brussels on April 10 to decide on the way forward.
March 29 was the original date for Brexit, but the Parliament has repeatedly failed to decide on the terms of the exit. Last week, May had offered to resign if the deal passed in a bid to win over rebels in her Conservative Party.