Brexit: Britain faces 'accidental' no-deal, EU warns

'Indecisive' Britain risks crashing out of the European Union without a deal, a senior EU negotiator has warned. PM Theresa May's handling of Brexit talks means the UK could crash out "by accident."

Britain risks an accidental crash-out from the EU, warned the deputy to EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier on Monday. In some of her toughest remarks, Sabine Weyand slammed Prime Minister Theresa May's handling of the divorce talks.

Politics | 30.01.2019

"There is a very real risk of a crash out. Not by design but by accident," Weyand told an audience invited by the European Policy Centre think tank.

Weyand said that May had kept members of her own government in the dark during 18 months of intense negotiations.

As a result, she argued, many lawmakers were surprised by the content of the withdrawal deal May signed with EU leaders in November— and overwhelmingly rejected it.

This septic isle

It never rains

A delay by UK Prime Minister Theresa May to allow Parliament to vote on her Brexit deal has increased the chances Britain will leave the bloc without a deal in March. The odds on a no-deal Brexit have shortened to 2/1, according to, while Steve Eisman, the trader whose prediction of the 2008 crisis was dramatized in the film The Big Short, is betting against UK banks.

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Money where your mouth is

The IMF says that while some sectors like agriculture and mining might benefit, the majority of sectors would shrink by between about 1 percent and 33 percent. The Bank of England said no-deal would wipe between 4.75 percent and 7.75 percent off what the UK would have produced by 2024 and the pound would fall by 25 percent.

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Not waving, but drowning

The EU has said the UK would have "third country" status under a no-deal scenario, giving it the same status as China, Russia and Pakistan. All goods crossing EU borders would be subject to tariffs of up to 38 percent. The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said additional paperwork attached to trading under WTO rules would act as an extra tariff of up to an average of 6.5 percent.

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Love's labor lost

Britain’s farmers and manufacturers face the largest shortage of skilled workers since 1989 due to a fall in the numbers of EU27 nationals coming to work since the Brexit vote. A no deal would likely accelerate that process.

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A road to nowhere

The financial industry and British regulators say a hard Brexit poses a threat to trillions of euros worth of derivative and insurance contracts London could lose up to to €800 billion to Frankfurt, lobby group Frankfurt Main Finance has said. Some 30 banks and financial firms have already chosen the city as the site of their new EU headquarters, with others opting for Dublin or Paris.

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Movers and shakers left in limbo

No-deal would have significant implications for people's ability to go where they want. A €7 charge for visiting the EU's Schengen Area would kick in in 2021, after the UK's transition period ends. British expats would face uncertainty, as many foreign governments have not yet established their rules for residency under no-deal.

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Can't beat a good queue

The UK Road Haulage Association has said a lack of planning over no-deal would mean the manufacturing sector would be put under "severe pressure" and hauliers would go out of business. European airports have warned that no-deal would cause "major disruption and heightened safety risks" to the air network. Ryanair's chief executive Michael O'Leary has warned planes could be grounded.

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All in it together

The biggest impact of no deal could be felt in Ireland, which exports 12 percent of its goods and 40 percent of its food to the UK, and two-thirds of its other exports travel through the UK. The IMF believes the Netherlands, Denmark, the Czech Republic and Belgium also face taking moderate hits to their economies of between 0.5 percent and 0.7 percent.

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Where there is harmony, May brings discord

The Police Federation has said it was worried about "widescale disruption and dangers for the general public." Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has said 3,500 troops are on standby to cope with the fallout of no deal. The government is preparing for potential shortages of key items in the wake of a no-deal Brexit. But May refused to guarantee the health service (NHS) would have enough medicines.

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Christmas-voting turkeys play chicken in Ireland

The border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland would remain unresolved with no deal. The main sticking point has been the Irish 'backstop' — the insurance scheme for avoiding a hard border in Northern Ireland. One solution has been a Canada-style agreement that would remove most EU restrictions but would not abolish the need for a hard border. But uncertainty breeds fear.

May is now seeking tweaks to the accord and to a parallel political declaration on future EU-British relations in the hope of belatedly winning domestic support.

Read more: Brexit: What Europe wants 

Parliamentary showdown

The UK parliament on Tuesday will debate and vote on competing proposals about what to do next following the rejection of May's deal.

Fifteen amendments to May's deal have been proposed, several of which will be selected for a debate and vote. John Bercow, speaker of the House of Commons, will announce which ones have been chosen around 1400 CET (1300 UTC) on Tuesday. After about six hours of debating, voting on each amendment will take place, one by one.

May has reportedly been asking her lawmakers to support an amendment calling for a Northern Irish backstop — a kind of insurance policy aimed at preventing a hard border in Ireland — to be replaced with alternative arrangements.

But leading pro-Brexit Conservative lawmaker Jacob Rees-Mogg said he and his "hard Brexit"-backing allies would not support the amendment because "it doesn't say what [the backstop] would be replaced with."

Related Subjects

Read more: Theresa May proposes UK-wide customs backstop 

Who's who in Brexit?

Britain's embattled skipper: Theresa May

May became prime minister after David Cameron resigned from the post in the wake of the Brexit referendum vote in June 2016. Despite her position, she has struggled to define what kind of Brexit her government wants. Hardliners within her Conservative party want her to push for a clean break. Others want Britain to stay close to the bloc. The EU itself has rejected many of May's Brexit demands.

Who's who in Brexit?

Britain's reluctant rebel: Jeremy Corbyn

The leader of the British Labour Party has no formal role in the Brexit talks, but he is influential as the head of the main opposition party. Labour has tried to pressure the Conservative government, which has a thin majority in Parliament, to seek a "softer" Brexit. But Corbyn's own advocacy has been lukewarm. The long-time leftist voted for the UK to leave the European Community (EC) in 1975.

Who's who in Brexit?

Britain's boisterous Brexiteer: Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson's turbulent two years as UK foreign secretary came to an abrupt end with his resignation on July 9. The conservative had been a key face for the Leave campaign during the 2016 referendum campaign. Johnson disapproves of the "soft Brexit" sought by PM May, arguing that a complete break from the EU might be preferable. He became the second Cabinet member within 24 hours to quit...

Who's who in Brexit?

Britain's cheery ex-delegate: David Davis

David Davis headed Britain's Department for Exiting the EU and was the country's chief negotiator in the talks before he quit on July 8, less than 24 hours before Downing Street announced Boris Johnson's departure. Davis had long opposed Britain's EU membership and was picked for the role for this reason. Davis was involved in several negotiating rounds with his EU counterpart, Michel Barnier.

Who's who in Brexit?

Britain's former Brexit secretary: Dominic Raab

Raab replaced Davis in early July 2018. But he only lasted four months, resigning a day after Theresa May presented a draft withdrawal plan to her cabinet. Raab previously worked for a Palestinian negotiator in the Oslo peace process and as an international lawyer in Brussels advising on European Union and World Trade Organization law.

Who's who in Brexit?

Britain's turnabout diplomat: Jeremy Hunt

Jeremy Hunt was Britain's Health Secretary until he replaced Boris Johnson as foreign secretary in early July 2018. The 51-year-old supported Britain remaining in the European Union during the 2016 referendum, but said in late 2017 that he had changed his mind in response to the "the arrogance of the EU Commission" during Brexit talks. He has vowed to help get Britain a "great Brexit deal."

Who's who in Brexit?

Britain's firebrand: Nigel Farage

Nigel Farage was the leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) until July 2016. Under his stewardship, the party helped pressure former Prime Minister David Cameron into calling the EU referendum. He was also a prominent activist in the Leave campaign in the lead-up to the vote. Farage still has some influence over Brexit talks due to his popularity with pro-Leave voters.

Who's who in Brexit?

Brexit's banker: Arron Banks

Businessman Arron Banks is a friend of Nigel Farage, and donated a significant sum to the former UKIP leader's Leave.EU campaign – making him the group's biggest financial backer. He had several meetings with Russian officials ahead of the referendum, but has denied allegations of collusion with Moscow in the Brexit vote, branding the claims a "political witch hunt."

Who's who in Brexit?

Europe's honchos: Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk

EU Commission President Juncker (left) and EU Council President Tusk (right) share two of the bloc's highest posts. Juncker heads the EU's executive. Tusk represents the governments of the 27 EU countries — the "EU 27." Both help formulate the EU's position in Brexit negotiations. What Tusk says is particularly noteworthy: His EU 27 masters — not the EU commission — must agree to any Brexit deal.

Who's who in Brexit?

Europe's steely diplomat: Michel Barnier

The former French foreign minister and European commissioner has become a household name across the EU since his appointment as the bloc's chief Brexit negotiator in October 2016. Despite his prominence, Barnier has limited room to maneuver. He is tasked with following the EU 27's strict guidelines and must regularly report back to them during the negotiations.

Who's who in Brexit?

Ireland's uneasy watchman: Leo Varadkar

The Irish PM has been one of the most important EU 27 leaders in Brexit talks. Britain has said it will leave the EU's customs union and single market. That could force the Republic of Ireland, an EU member, to put up customs checks along the border with Northern Ireland, a British province. But Varadkar's government has repeatedly said the return of a "hard" border is unacceptable.

Who's who in Brexit?

Europe's power-brokers: the EU 27

The leaders of the EU 27 governments have primarily set the EU's negotiating position. They have agreed to the negotiating guidelines for chief negotiator Barnier and have helped craft the common EU position for Tusk and Juncker to stick to. The individual EU 27 governments can also influence the shape of any Brexit outcome because they must unanimously agree to a final deal.

Other key proposals seek to rule out a no-deal exit and prepare for a second referendum in which the option to remain in the EU would be on the ballot paper.

The remaining 27 EU member countries have meanwhile been intensifying their preparations for a no-deal Brexit. Italy's Finance Ministry said last week that it had drafted no-deal measures to protect the country's finance industry.

Read more: Angela Merkel, Michel Barnier discuss Brexit in Berlin  

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DW News | 24.01.2019

Barnier on no-deal Brexit

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