Brussels, Apr 3: The European Union's chief negotiator Michel Barnier said that a no-deal Brexit was becoming more likely by the day after British lawmakers rejected alternative options.
“Over the last days a no-deal scenario has become more likely, but we can still hope to avoid it,” Barnier said on Tuesday, adding that the EU was ready to accept Britain staying the EU’s customs union or a relationship akin to the one the EU has with Norway.
The House of Commons' rejection on Monday night of potential solutions to the current ordeal of Brexit has further dimmed the lights for an orderly divorce deal between London and Brussels. "The only way to avoid a no-deal Brexit is and will be through a positive majority" in the British House of Commons, he said.
Barnier said Britain could have a long extension of Brexit, but only on the basis of "a strong justification".
Barnier said an extension beyond the end of May would require Britain to take part in European parliamentary elections, which "would carry significant risks for the EU and therefore strong justification would be needed".
That Britain could leave without an agreement with the European Union is "day after day more likely", he said. But he insisted that the European Union was prepared for this scenario.
Barnier made it clear that even if Britain asks for a long extension, the withdrawal agreement will not be reopened, and that negotiations on the country's future relationship with the European Union cannot legally take place until Britain is no longer a member. UNI