No-deal would be UK government's fault say MEPs

If there is a no-deal Brexit it will be entirely the responsibility of the UK government says the European Parliament in a resolution on Brexit which campaigners have criticised as saying too little about the rights of those living abroad in the EU.

In its resolution the parliament says it is in Britain’s and the EU’s overwhelming interest that the UK leaves with a withdrawal agreement in an “orderly way” but notes that a no-deal exit will occur on November 1 if there is no agreement or extension and should this happen the UK:

  • Will still face the same issues with regard to keeping the the Ireland and Northern Ireland border open and its obligations under the Good Friday Agreement
  • Will still have the same obligation to pay the financial settlement and
  • No further negotiations will take place between the EU and UK and no future agreement with the UK will be consented to by the parliament, unless the UK has honoured these in full as well as its commitments with regard to citizens’ rights (rights of Britons living in the EU and EU citizens living in the UK).

The parliament says it will veto any withdrawal agreement without a backstop, and notes that the current version – in which the whole UK would remain temporarily in a customs union with the EU if the backstop comes into play – was asked for by the UK and the EU is willing to return to its original proposal of a backstop limited to the island of Ireland.

It also recalls that the backstop is only to be used as a “temporary measure of last resort”.

However it is open to examining “alternative solutions” (eg. new technologies) if these are fully operational.

It says it is up to the UK to now come forward with written proposals for these, if such arrangements exit.

The parliament is also open to the option of changing the current Political Declaration on the future relationship into a more “formal and legal” document, aiming at such a close relationship with the EU, via an association agreement, that no backstop or “alternative arrangements” would be necessary.

The resolution adds that “all endeavours should be undertaken to try to ensure that [EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU] are not affected” by a no-deal and it “encourages” EU states to give Britons abroad “legal certainty” and says EU states should be “consistent and generous”.

However in a statement along with the3million group for EU citizens abroad in the UK, the British in Europe campaign coalition expresses “disappointment” with the resolution.

It states: “The only way to prove that the UK and EU want to safeguard our rights is to carve out all the sections about citizen’s rights agreed in the Withdrawal Agreement and ring-fence them… before any UK exit with no deal”.

The coalition adds that “the time for warm words is long over” and the parliament and other EU institutions “owe a duty of care to their own citizens”.

In its resolution the European Parliament also said it would support a further Brexit extension if there is a reason for it, such as to avoid a ‘no-deal exit’, to hold a general election or a referendum, to revoke Article 50, or to approve a withdrawal agreement) and if the work of the EU institutions is not harmed due to it.

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