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21st Feb 2019

EU president Jean-Claude Juncker ‘not optimistic’ a no deal Brexit will be avoided

Marc Mayo

Brussels continues to warn of the “terrible” economic and social consequences of leaving without a deal

A no deal Brexit is becoming an increasingly likely prospect after another round of discussions between Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Union Commission president has warned.

Following talks with the British prime minister on Wednesday, Juncker admitted he was suffering from “Brexit fatigue” while attempting to complete withdrawal negotiations.

“If no deal were to happen, and I cannot exclude this, this would have terrible economic and social consequences in Britain and on the continent, so my efforts are oriented in a way that the worst can be avoided,” he told the European Economic and Social Committee on Thursday.

“But I am not very optimistic when it comes to this issue. Brexit is deconstruction. It is the past, not the future. And so we are trying to deliver our best efforts to have this Brexit deal organised in a proper, civilised, well-thought way.

“But we are not there. Because in the British parliament every time they are voting, there is a majority against something, there is no majority in favour of something.”

On Thursday, it was Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s turn to meet with chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier, holding talks which he described as “useful and informative.”

He told reporters in Brussels: “We put forward what we believe to be a credible proposal, which is to join a customs union with the EU and alignment to ensure market access.

“We are strongly of the belief that these proposals are credible. That has been confirmed by our meetings today. The problem is the Prime Minister is insisting on her deal and running down the clock. When we return to parliament we will continue with looking for a credible and sustainable way forward.”