EU’s Tusk suggests UK should cancel Brexit
European Council President Donald Tusk has suggested that the UK should stay in the EU, after the prime minister’s Brexit deal was rejected in parliament.
“If a deal is impossible, and no one wants no deal, then who will finally have the courage to say what the only positive solution is?”, he tweeted.
MPs voted by 432 votes to 202 to reject the deal, which sets out the terms of Britain’s exit from the EU on 29 March.
EU officials and politicians have reacted with dismay to the result.
It was the largest defeat for a sitting government in history, with 118 of the votes against coming from Prime Minister Theresa May’s own Conservative Party.
It has cast more doubt on the Brexit process, and the leader of the opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, has tabled a vote of no confidence in the government.
As well as Mr Tusk’s tweet, there has been plenty of comment on Tuesday’s vote from across Europe. Here are the key quotes:
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned that time was running out for the UK to strike a deal.
“I urge the United Kingdom to clarify its intentions as soon as possible. Time is almost up,” he said shortly after the result was announced.
“The risk of a disorderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom has increased with this evening’s vote,” he added.
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said the UK had to decide on its approach.
“It’s now up to the British government to say what the next stage is,” he said. “The EU will remain united and determined to find a deal.”
German Finance Minister and Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Tuesday was a “bitter day for Europe”.
“We are well prepared, but a hard Brexit would be the least attractive choice, for the EU and [UK],” he said.
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the leader of the ruling Christian Democrat Union party, echoed this view.
“A hard Brexit will be the worst of all options,” she said.
Quick guide: What is a no-deal Brexit?
A "no-deal" Brexit is where the UK would cut all ties with the European Union overnight.
Theresa May's government, and many others, believe this would be hugely damaging and want a more gradual withdrawal. But if Parliament can't agree on that, and nothing else takes its place, the UK will leave without a deal.
This would mean the UK would not have to obey EU rules. Instead, it would need to follow World Trade Organization terms on trade. Many businesses would see new taxes on imports, exports and services, which are likely to increase their operating costs. That means the prices of some goods in UK shops could go up.
The UK would also lose the trade agreements it had with other countries as a member of the EU, all of which would need to be renegotiated alongside the new agreement with the EU itself.
Manufacturers in the UK expect to face delays in components coming across the border.
The UK would be free to set its own immigration controls. However some UK professionals working in the EU and UK expats could face uncertainty until their status was clarified. The European Commission has said that even in a no-deal scenario, UK travellers won't need a visa for short visits of up to 90 days.
The border between Northern Ireland and the Irish republic would become an external frontier for the EU with customs and immigration controls, though how and where any checks would be made is not clear.
Some Leave supporters think that leaving without a deal would be positive if the right preparations were made. They say criticism is scaremongering and any short term pain would be for long term gain.
But critics – including both Brexit supporters and opponents – say that leaving without a deal would be a disaster for the UK: driving up food prices, leading to shortages of goods and gridlock on some roads in the South East resulting from extra border checks.
“The pressure is mainly on them,” French President Emmanuel Macron said of the UK.
He warned that a transition period is essential because a no-deal Brexit would be damaging.
“We will have to negotiate a transition period with them because the British cannot afford to no longer have planes taking off or landing at home,” he said.
In a short statement, the Irish government said it would ramp up preparations for the UK leaving without an agreement.
“Regrettably, the outcome of tonight’s vote increases the risk of a disorderly Brexit,” it said.
“Consequently, the government will continue to intensify preparations for such an outcome.”
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