The risk of a “disorderly” Brexit has never been higher, the EU’s chief negotiator has said, following MPs’ second humiliating rejection of Theresa May’s deal.
Michel Barnier said the EU “cannot go any further” in trying to persuade MPs to back the agreed terms of exit and the UK had to break the impasse.
He questioned what the purpose would be of extending the talks beyond March 29th.
“Again the House of Commons says what it doesn’t want,” he told the European Parliament. “Now this impasse can only be solved in the UK.
“The risk of no-deal has never been higher. That is the risk of an exit….in a disorderly fashion.”
The EU, he suggested, had gone “as far as it possibly can” to satisfy MPs’ concerns over the agreement, particularly in relation to the backstop, an insurance policy to stop a hard border on the island of Ireland.
“If the UK still wants to leave the EU in an orderly manner, this treaty is, and will remain, the only treaty possible,” he said.
The PM had made a last-minute plea to MPs to back her deal after she had secured legal assurances on the Irish backstop from the EU during late-night talks in Strasbourg on Monday.
But although she managed to convince about 40 Tory MPs to change their mind, it was not nearly enough to overturn the historic 230 vote defeat she suffered on the same deal in January.