EU parliamentary committee backs visa-free travel for Britons after Brexit - International

Michel Barnier says the UK has three options left

Michel Barnier says the UK has three options left

"We'll need to talk about what we will do in the event of a no deal, which will be particularly hard for Ireland, and from our point of view, we'll want to pursue our twin objectives, to protect the Good Friday Agreement on which peace in Northern Ireland is based, and protect the integrity of the single market and customs union, (on) which Ireland's economic model has been based for decades".

European Union officials say it is "very likely" that Britain will depart without a deal, bringing potentially devastating political and economic consequences.

"If the British Government refuse to follow through on that commitment that they have made well then, of course, we've to speak to the EU Commission about how we respond to that and that was always going to be left to the last number of weeks".

Speaking before a meeting with the French President, Leo Varadkar said Theresa May can still come up with a convincing plan.

She also announced a significant softening of her Brexit terms, including trying to make an accord with the political opposition. "Even if, after today, we don't know what the end result will be, let us be patient", he said.

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Repeating what was expressed by European leaders at a meeting in Brussels on March 22, Mr Macron said "it is up to the United Kingdom to present a credible alternative plan, backed by a majority, between now and April 10".

"There is still time for the prime minister to come to the European Council with proposals, proposals that are credible and have a clear pathway to success", Varadkar said as he arrived in Paris for talks with French President Emmanuel Macron. I say that again here very strongly. "That is the right and best place for them", he said. But he indicated Britain has limited options, with the only "orderly manner" being a scenario where the British parliament accepts the deal Prime Minister Theresa May's negotiators agreed to after two years of talks with the EU.

He confirmed afterwards that the Irish preference is for the existing Withdrawal Agreement, including the backstop, to be ratified - but if that can't happen an extension is the next option.

"There is no guarantee that the United Kingdom will get an extension at all, bear in mind an extension requires unanimity and any one of 27 countries could block an extension".

"If the United Kingdom is not capable, nearly three years after the referendum, of coming forward with a solution that is supported by a majority, it will have effectively chosen a no-deal exit on its own", he said.

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