EU to announce more measures without agreement as MPs do not end deadlock | Politics


Britain has been warned by Brussels that the country is facing the "abyss" as the EU prepares to outline new non-negotiation measures following the last Commons votes.

EU sources said their focus should be to deal with the fact that the UK has fallen on the block in two weeks, with ever-decreasing patience in EU capitals.

"All we can do is separate our house," said one EU diplomat. "But the inability to find a small majority for any solution offers little indication that there is an orderly way out of it."

Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament's negotiator at Brexit, tweeted that the last stage of the indicative voting process, to be held on Wednesday, offered the last hope of avoiding a non-agreement. MEPs intend to bring back fewer proposals to the Commons, hoping that a compromise position can be found.

He said: "The House of Commons again votes against all options. A hard Brexit becomes almost inevitable. On Wednesday, the UK has one last chance to break the deadlock or face the chasm. "

Before the vote, European Union officials said Britain was on track to leave the EU on May 22 if the Commons ordered Downing Street to negotiate a customs union.

The desire to negotiate an ambitious customs deal could quickly be written into the political declaration and formally signed at the EU leaders' summit on 10 April. But the proposal of the customs union, presented by the former chancellor Ken Clarke, lost three votes in the night of Monday.

It was one of the four proposals, along with the second referendum, the Common Market proposal 2.0 and the repeal of Article 50, which failed to obtain the majority.

Speaking in Berlin earlier in the day, Jean-Claude Juncker called on parliamentarians to unite around a post-Brexit vision, and hinted at the danger that EU patience was being stretched.

The president of the European Commission said: "We now know what the British government does not want, but we still do not know what they want. Compared to the British Parliament, a sphinx is an open book. We need to make the sphinx talk. We've had enough of the silence.

Juncker, who described David Cameron as "one of the greatest destroyers of the modern era" for his role in the referendum, continued: "If the British do not leave on April 12 and there is a delay, then they have to take part in the elections. whether that happens or not, is another matter.I wish we could find an agreement with the British on April 12 that this question need not be asked. "

The EU has already published a series of time-limited contingency measures, including legislation to keep flights on air and road routes open in the case of a Brexit without an agreement. More details on how the Irish border will be kept open are expected along with other measures designed to protect EU interests after a cliff Brexit on 12 April.

EU sources said it would still be possible for the UK to leave until May 22 if the prime minister's agreement or one of them, including a customs union, was supported this week by parliamentarians.

Earlier, Verhofstadt had described a vote in favor of a customs union as "really the best thing that could happen." He said: "This new political declaration can then be adopted at a European summit on 10 April and then we will give the British the opportunity to formalize it in English legislation by May 22."

Verhofstadt's optimism was not matched in all EU capitals, given the British Prime Minister's earlier rejection of a customs union.

In a speech on Saturday, European Union Minister of Germany Michael Roth told an audience in Berlin: "Brexit sucks. I say this in a rather uncoordinated way, "adding that" 90% "of the British cabinet" had no idea how workers think, live, work and behave. "

Labor support for the idea of ​​a customs union includes the condition that there be a British declaration in the EU's trade policy. Brussels would probably try to avoid a discussion on this subject before the withdrawal agreement and political declaration was finally ratified by the House of Commons.

But an EU official close to the negotiations admitted that the UK would face strong opposition to something more than a symbolic advisory role: "When you consider EU trade agreements mixed agreements, there are views from Member States, the European Commission and the voice. of the European Parliament, "the official said. "What can you do with a third country? Not much."


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