Wednesday 18 September 2019

It's the only deal possible, EU's Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier tells Britain

Stock photo
Stock photo

Gabriela Baczynska

The European Union's Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has told Britain the Brexit deal the bloc agreed with Prime Minister Theresa May was the only one possible.

Barnier was speaking to a nearly-empty EU parliament chamber as the bloc awaits the verdict from London where May is trying to sell the deal to her divided parliament, which will vote on it on December 11.

The EU insists the Brexit accord sealed after 18 months of talks will not be renegotiated.

"Given the difficult circumstances of this negotiation and given the extreme complexity of all the issues of the British withdrawal, the deal that is on the table ... this deal is the only one and the best possible," Barnier said.

"Now is the time for ratification," he said.

The Bank of England said on Wednesday Britain risked suffering an even bigger hit to its economy than during the global financial crisis 10 years ago if it left the EU without a deal in four months' time.

Read more: Extreme Brexit could be worse than financial crisis for UK - Bank of England

"It's not a question of winners and losers because Brexit is a lose-lose. There is no added value," Barnier said.

"I am convinced we will be able to work together for a real and unprecedented partnership," he said of Britain's future relationship with the EU, talks on which will start after Brexit day on March 29, 2019.

During the EU parliamentary debate on Thursday, Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage said May's deal would be voted down in the British parliament as "the worst deal in history".

Barnier received much praise from EU lawmakers for his handling of the Brexit negotiations, a sentiment shared in many EU quarters, beefing the Frenchman's chances should he run for the top job in the bloc next year.

Meanwhile, the Financial Conduct Authority said that Britain's draft divorce settlement and declaration on future trading relations would leave the country without a say over European Union financial rules, but are preferable to a no-deal Brexit.

"An exit without agreement would carry much higher risk and carry significant uncertainty for us and for firms. Against that background, and viewed through the lens of our statutory objectives, the draft Withdrawal Agreement and the outline political declaration are preferable steps," the FCA said in a report.

Reuters

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