Spectre of no-deal Brexit lingers over Parliament debate
Romania’s EU affairs minister has told a Brexit debate with MEPs that though she hopes a resolution will emerge, the UK is "still grappling with the issue of how and if to exit the EU.”
Photo Credit: European Parliament Audiovisual
Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday, Melania-Gabriela Ciot, whose country holds the EU Presidency, said, “The EU has shown a willingness to adapt but the uncertainty and negative consequences of a no deal still remain and the clear economic impact of this on both sides.”
She told MEPs, “The EU is still determined to facilitate a conclusion of the Withdrawal Agreement even at this late stage but not to the detriment of Member State solidarity, in particular [with] Ireland.”
“The UK will have to indicate a way forward, possibly leading to another extension. Should the UK do this, any extension should not undermine the operation of the EU and therefore it may involve holding European elections in the UK.”
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Ciot said that the Withdrawal Agreement continues to be the best solution for both sides and she warned of the “serious consequences” of a no-deal Brexit.
“Therefore, it is all the more necessary to prepare for all outcomes including a no deal. At this late stage I am confident that all possible contingency measures for this will be in place and in good time,” she added.
German EPP member Elmar Brok, a member of Parliament’s Brexit steering group, said, “It is clear a hard Brexit can only be avoided if the [Withdrawal Agreement] is concluded. I do not want a hard Brexit because the damage for all would be enormous but much more for the UK.”
“We are ready to look at whatever the UK wants but if it is not ratified then a hard Brexit will take place with all the consequences associated with that, he said, adding, “A long extension must carry conditions and I think the people must be allowed to speak.”
“At this late stage I am confident that all possible contingency measures for this [no-deal Brexit] will be in place and in good time” Melania-Gabriela Ciot, Romanian EU affairs minister
Italian Socialist member Roberto Gualtieri said, “4 days after the UK was meant to leave [Theresa] May finally sits down with the opposition leader. Well, better late than never.”
“We will have to see if these talks produce a way forward or are just another political exercise.”
He said, “The threat of no deal has not disappeared. That would be bad for everyone and a disaster for the UK and that is why the rights of all citizens are ring fenced. They must not pay the price for the failure of politicians.”
“The public must have the right to a final say, which is one reason why a longer extension must not be ruled out. This request cannot be rejected,” he added.
ALDE’s Guy Verhofstadt said that while he was “not a big fan” of Corbyn “the problem is the division in the Tory party.”
He said, “We follow daily the Commons votes and their sessions have become more popular here than the Premier League, though the result is always the same, a draw.”
“We are open to changing the political declaration, but there must be a meaningful vote in the Commons before 12 April. To those thinking of a long extension I say be under no illusion that we can create a situation where you have one foot in and one outside the EU,” Verhofstadt added.
“I do not want a hard Brexit because the damage for all would be enormous but much more for the UK” Elmar Brok MEP
Belgian Greens member Philippe Lamberts said, “May’s strategy of running down the clock has run its course but there is no way round ratifying the [Withdrawal Agreement].”
“The door remains open for the UK. Being at the heart of Europe is where it belongs, so making such a momentous choice should be left to the public.”
SNP MEP Ian Hudghton said, "A little over twenty years ago in this hemicycle I made my first speech as a member of the SNP. I came here hoping that I would play a part in Scotland's transition to normality as an independent country.”
“That was not to be and look where we are now. I could never have imagined twenty years ago that we'd be trapped in this idiotic Westminster chaos of Brexit.”
“The threat of no deal has not disappeared. That would be bad for everyone and a disaster for the UK and that is why the rights of all citizens are ring fenced. They must not pay the price for the failure of politicians” Roberto Gualtieri MEP
"Voters in Scotland voted to remain - every single local authority area in Scotland voted to remain - and yet Westminster continues to ignore Scotland's interests in this process.”
"Scotland can and must do better. I think our recent experience has amply illustrated the argument for independence for Scotland, so that we as a normal country can make our own arrangements with our neighbours and with the rest of the world," Hudghton added.
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