BRUSSELS chiefs launched a bid to push Britain towards a soft Brexit as they gave up on Theresa May getting her current deal past MPs.
European leaders dropped heavy hints the UK should pursue a Norway-style future relationship to avoid leaving without a deal in just three weeks.
EU chiefs launched a bid to impel soft Brexit as they gave up on Theresa May getting her deal past the Commons vote next week[/caption]
Their overtures came as Emmanuel Macron warned the UK will crash out of the bloc on April 12 if MPs don’t forge a majority for a new plan before then.
Publicly Dutch PM Mark Rutte and Luxembourg’s Xavier Bettel put on a brave face, rating the chances of Mrs May’s deal passing as “50/50”.
But privately Mr Macron gave odds of just 5%. With black humour Council chief Donald Tusk described even that as overly optimistic.
EU chiefs used the 25th anniversary of the European Economic Area agreement yesterday to encourage Britain to join the Single Market club.
Mr Tusk said the EEA was “a long-term partnership where all contribute and benefit” and praised the “wisdom” of the countries who chose it.
He said: “Until April 12 anything is possible – a deal, a long extension if the UK decided to rethink its strategy, or revoking Article 50.
BRITAIN’S FATE ‘IN THE HANDS OF OUR BRITISH FRIENDS’
“The fate of Brexit is in the hands of our British friends. As the EU we are prepared for the worst but hope for the best. Hope dies last.”
Irish PM Leo Varadkar had a dig at Brexiteers by saying the EEA showed “sensible solutions are possible once red lines don’t restrict them”.
He added the UK now had to choose between “no deal, the Withdrawal Agreement or a much closer relationship with the EU”.
And top eurocrat Martin Selmayr called it “a well tested, successful model for close economic integration between the EU and its neighbours”.
Meanwhile Danish PM Lars Lokke Rasmussen said the delay to Brexit agreed on Thursday night meant the UK now had the chance to “rethink the whole thing”.
He said: “If they don’t pass the agreement through the House of Commons next week and they still don’t want a hard Brexit, and they want to redefine their own red lines and negotiate a whole new package, that’s a possibility.”
The UK could reject the agreement, in which case they would have two weeks to come up with a credible alternative plan and a majority in the parliament
Emmanuel Macron, President of France
Mr Macron heaped pressure on MPs opposed to no deal to form a majority for a softer Brexit by April 12 or face the UK crashing out by default.
He said: “The UK could reject the agreement, in which case they would have two weeks to come up with a credible alternative plan and a majority in the parliament.
“Should this not happen, despite the additional flexibility, we will have to conclude that there will be a no deal agreement.”
EU leaders also gave a cautious welcome to plans being hatched by No 10 to hold indicative votes on seven options ranging from no deal to no Brexit.
Dutch PM Mark Rutte suggested it “might be helpful” for MPs to now “take the initiative to make suggestions” on the way forward.
But an EU diplomat told The Sun: “They’re only helpful if they actually result in a majority for an organised withdrawal.”
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Brussels chiefs also expressed renewed hopes that a long delay could end up with Brexit being reversed altogether.
Mr Bettel said: “The best possible outcome would be a new referendum and to stay.”
And asked whether he wants the UK to remain, Mr Tusk replied: “I think you know my position. I am more pro-British than you, I think.”
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