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  • A boy writes a message on a mock border wall during a protest by anti-Brexit campaigners,

    A boy writes a message on a mock border wall during a protest by anti-Brexit campaigners, 'Borders Against Brexit' in Carrickcarnan, Ireland. | Photo: Reuters

Published 25 March 2019

EU officials said many countries have started preparing for a no-deal Brexit whose chances are becoming stronger. 

The European Union believes a no-deal Brexit is increasingly likely, officials in Brussels said Monday after the bloc gave Britain two more weeks to resolve its political stalemate.

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“We are prepared for this scenario,” an EU official said describing the bloc’s contingency preparations.

As British Prime Minister Theresa May battles to keep control of Brexit and her own job, the EU has stepped up pressure on London, pushing the message that the bloc is ready for an abrupt split.

The officials, who have toured the 27 states remaining in the EU after Brexit to coordinate preparations, said France, Belgium, and the Netherlands were hiring up to 2,100 people for additional customs, animal and plant health checks that would be necessary should Britain leave the bloc with no transition deal in place.

They said EU member states were setting up 20 new border inspection points as the bloc tries to mitigate the worst disruption in transport and travel in a no-deal scenario, as well as moves to guarantee expatriates’ rights.

During a debate in the Parliament Monday, the Prime Minister Theresa May said that the only option is slow Brexit as there can be “no no-deal Brexit” and “no no Brexit.”

She was criticized by opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn for failing to produce a concrete plan even two years after the Brexit referendum.

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According to the Labor leader, the U.K. is still facing the “prospectus of a disastrous no-deal Brexit.”

It is the PM’s failure that brought so many people out on the streets in a protest against the government. He reached out for a crossparty discussion to discuss an alternative deal which will protect jobs, workers, and communities as May’s deal is “dead.”

According to him, a Tori crisis cannot be afforded, neither a chaotic Tori deal.

Brexit had been due to happen on March 29 before May secured the delay. Now a departure date of May 22 will apply if parliament passes the Withdrawal Agreement the British PM agreed with the EU in November. If she fails, Britain will have until April 12 to offer a new plan or decide to leave without a treaty to smooth the transition and avoid an economic shock.

London is also due to inform the EU by April 18 whether it will contribute to the bloc’s 2020 budget as planned, even in a no-deal scenario.

“We don’t want a no-deal Brexit, we’d much rather have the Withdrawal Agreement, but if it is to be a no-deal, let’s do it quickly,” the EU official said of EU businesses’ approach.

“They compare it to a plaster - you can take it off very slowly and it’ll hurt for some time. Or you can take it off very quickly and it’s done. They want certainty.”

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