France makes contingency plans for 'no deal' Brexit

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has asked his ministers to prepare

The French Prime Minster has asked his cabinet to work on contingency measures for a ‘no deal’ Brexit, including ‘facilitating residency of British people already living in France’.

The announcement comes after Prime Minister Edouard Philippe called a special meeting of ministers to prepare for what he called “this unprecedented challenge” – although both France and the UK (and EU) say they are still aiming for an ‘orderly’ Brexit with a deal.

The government will also be looking for ways to “ensure the greatest possible fluidity in terms of border checks once the UK has become a third country to the EU”, the Prime Minister’s office says.

In coming weeks the government will be presenting a loi d’habilitation on this subject – a kind of law where the government seeks permission to make orders on a topic without a debate in parliament (however, the measures taken must later be ratified retrospectively by parliament, otherwise they lapse).

The UK and EU have been aiming to finalise a draft exit agreement before an EU summit on October 18, however it is now thought that talks are likely to go on into November in a last-ditch effort to arrive at a ‘deal’.

At present the parties have agreed on many areas, including rights of expatriates on both sides, but sticking points include how to avoid a ‘hard’ Northern Ireland/Ireland border and agreeing an outline plan for the future EU/UK relationship on matters including security cooperation and trade.

Meanwhile the British in Europe coalition, who campaign for Britons abroad in the EU to maintain their full rights, have changed tack from an officially neutral stance on Brexit to calling for an end to Brexit via a new referendum. They say it is clear now that the alternatives – the deal as agreed or ‘no deal’ – would lead to Britons losing some significant rights that they enjoy as EU citizens, including the right to move freely anywhere in the EU.

For more about impacts of Brexit on Britons in France, including the 'no deal' scenario, read our September edition of The Connexion newspaper, out later this week.

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