Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

EU Chief's Bleak Forecast for UK without Brexit Deal

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

EU Chief's Bleak Forecast for UK without Brexit Deal

Article excerpt

Byline: Jonathan Prynn, Kate Proctor and Joe Murphy

THE EU chief leading the Brexit negotiations has painted a bleak picture of an "undoubtedly worse off" Britain if the two sides cannot agree a deal.

Writing two days ahead of Theresa May's expected triggering of Article 50, Michel Barnier said failure in the talks would lead to "severe disruption" at airports and "long queues" for tourists and lorry drivers at Dover.

In an article in the Financial Times he also warned business would be hit by "disruption of supply chains" even including "the suspension of nuclear material" to Britain, which gets a fifth of its energy from nuclear reactors.

The 66-year-old Frenchman, a former European Commissioner, insisted the remaining 27 states would find it easier to adjust as they would still benefit from the single market, customs union and 60 trade deals with other countries.

He also said that the first phase of negotiations would be dominated by three "significant uncertainties" that need to be resolved before talks on a trade deal can begin.

First is the rights of the 3.2 million EU citizens living in the UK and the 1.2 million British-born residents of Europe. Mr Barnier said EU negotiators were "ready to discuss this issue from day one". Second, the need for Britain to "honour its commitments" to the European budget, and third, ensuring that peace and dialogue in Northern Ireland are not weakened.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said she "did not recognise" Mr Barnier's "apocalyptic" description of Britain without a Brexit deal. On the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, she said: "Let's face it, the UK Government, the UK economy is doing rather well now, much better than some of us thought, and the world economy is doing well and the British people are entering into it."

Today shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer said the PM must "face down" Brexiteers who want to drag Britain away from Europe during the EU negotiations. …

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