EU plans for chaotic Brexit as UK readies for no-deal vote
13 Mar 2019, 17:17
Strasbourg: European Union officials on Wednesday criticized the U.K. Parliament for rejecting a Brexit deal for a second time as the bloc prepared for a chaotic, cliff-edge departure.
In London, Britain’s government said it wouldn’t impose new checks and controls on goods at the Northern Ireland-Republic of Ireland border if the U.K. leaves the European Union without an agreement on future relations.
The policy is part of a temporary tariff regime unveiled Wednesday. It will last for up to 12 months.
As part of the plan, the government says there would be no tariffs on 87 percent of imports by value, a ‘modest liberalization’ compared with current trade rules. A mixture of tariffs and quotas will apply to beef, lamb, pork, poultry and some dairy ‘to support farmers and producers who have historically been protected through high EU tariffs.’
British lawmakers rejected May’s Brexit deal in a 391-242 vote on Tuesday night. Parliament will vote Wednesday on whether to leave the EU without a deal.
With the March 29 deadline little more than two weeks ago and U.K. politics in a total state of flux, the EU was speeding up its preparations to deal with a cliff-edge departure of Britain from the bloc and increased its criticism of the political disarray in London.
EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said Wednesday it was time for Westminster to change tack, after the U.K. parliament handed Prime Minister Theresa May another huge defeat on her freshly renegotiated Brexit deal.
Barnier said that ‘again the House of Commons says what it does not want. Now this impasse can only be solved in the U.K.’
The EU parliament’s Brexit group was meeting to assess the situation in Strasbourg, France before a plenary debate on the impasse.
‘No deal is going to be very disruptive for the economy,’ acknowledged U.K. Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay on the BBC.
EU Economic Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said Tuesday’s vote increases chances of a British departure that is ‘disorderly, brutal, like a cliff,’ including sudden new customs rules and trade chaos that multinationals have warned about for months.
EU member states were equally scathing, led be Germany, the economic powerhouse of the 28-nation EU.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that ‘whoever rejects the (Brexit) agreement plays with the welfare of their citizens and the economy in a reckless way.’
The U.K. parliament has now twice rejected the withdrawal agreement that May spent the best part of two years negotiating with the EU.
The EU insisted there would be another time of renegotiating everything for the sake of a hopelessly divided UK parliament.
Moscovici said ‘the train has passed two times’ and the EU will not renegotiate the deal before the scheduled Brexit date of March 29.
The European Parliament was poised to approve measures later Wednesday to deal the best it could with the immediate hardship of a cliff-edge departure at the end of the month.
It was set to back emergency rules to ease the immediate burdens on roads and airports if suddenly lorries would have to be checked and Britain would become a third country.