EU Ambassadors gather for ‘closed session’ to discuss impact of no-deal Brexit

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European Union officials are to step up no-deal Brexit preparations due to increased “uncertainty” over whether a deal can pass through the House of Commons, a leaked document has revealed.

EU ambassadors are set to hold a rare “closed session” on Wednesday night to discuss the prospect of Parliament rejecting the final divorce settlement.

Officials are expected to discuss possible mini-deals to keep aircraft flying, medicine supplies and ports moving in the event of a no-deal as part of European Commission “contingency planning”.

A restricted agenda, seen by The Times, states: “Preparedness work has to intensify in the months ahead at national as well as EU level as uncertainty remains about the outcome of the negotiations and the ratification of a possible deal.”

The talks will reportedly focus on using the legal basis of Article 50 exit talks to cushion a no deal when it becomes clear that negotiations are stalling and that time will run out before Brexit day in March next year.

Members of the then Cabinet gathered at Chequers (Joel Rouse/Crown Copyright)/PA)

Under EU treaty law the mini-deals would have to be temporary, merely deferring many of the no deal problems, before more permanent solutions can be negotiated.

France’s finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, told reporters on Tuesday that the EU has higher considerations than the UK’s economic health to deal with and it would be “suicidal” for the bloc to soften its stance in relation to Theresa May’s Chequers proposals for the future relationship.

He said: “I’m sorry to say it so callously: there is something more important for us than the future of the UK, and that’s the future of the EU.

“Any decision that would give European citizens the feeling you can exit the EU and keep all the advantages would be suicidal, and we won’t make that decision.”

The meeting of ambassadors on the continent comes after experts warned extending the timetable for the departure talks was “essential”.

The Fraser of Allander Institute think tank, based at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, insisted that an orderly transition as the UK leaves the European Union is “vital”.

As a result its director Professor Graeme Roy said extending the Article 50 negotiating period, something Mrs May has already ruled out, could be “essential”, even if it proves “unpalatable” to the UK Government.

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