Tuesday 15 October 2019

EU officials begin 'war-game' exercises on how to react if the UK crashes out

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier (PA)
EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier (PA)
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

European officials have begun 'war gaming' how to react in the event the UK crashes out of the EU.

Ambassadors from the remaining 27 countries have discussed what it would take to begin a fresh round of EU-UK negotiations after a disorderly Brexit.

They expect a period of economic chaos in Britain which will lead the UK government back to Brussels within weeks.

The UK should be leaving the EU today but instead MPs will be voting to delay their exit until May 22.

EU diplomats and officials concluded yesterday that despite Prime Minister Theresa May's offer to resign, Britain is more likely than ever to crash out.

Sources in Dublin also pointed out the contingency plans already released by the UK suggest they will need some form of new deal to cope with the consequences of crashing out.

EU chiefs have compiled a provisional list of demands that will have to be fulfilled in order for negotiations to restart.

Top of the list is a commitment to protect the Good Friday Agreement, which essentially means the EU will continue to insist on the UK maintaining regulatory alignment between Northern Ireland and the Republic. This will ensure the Irish Border remains open.

The EU will also seek a speedy repayment of the UK's outstanding financial contributions to the union.

The EU is gearing up for a potential emergency summit of EU leaders to deal with a disorderly Brexit, probably on April 10.

"There is increasing awareness that a no-deal is more and more likely," said a senior EU diplomat.

"An extraordinary Brexit summit looks exceedingly likely. It will be either to discuss no deal and how to take it forward, or to agree another extension," said another senior EU diplomat.

The EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, said: "We are working, we are prepared."

Meanwhile, former UK Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt warned that Brexit has caused international concern about stability in the UK.

Mr Burt, who quit his ministerial post this week so that he could vote against the government on EU withdrawal, said overseas observers want to see the situation resolved.

He said Brexit had made an impact on the view of the UK from abroad, telling 'The House' magazine: "The exposure of our processes has made some people think very carefully about where British politics is going. They're concerned about stability. They want to see this resolved."

Irish Independent

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