EU member states told to step up ‘no deal’ Brexit preparations

The European Commission said “everyone must now step up preparations for all scenarios and take responsibility for their specific situation” ahead of Britain’s official exit day of 30 March 2019.

In a 16-page document, it warns of the possibility of long queues at borders and ports, disruption to air travel and new restrictions on data transfers if no exit deal is agreed between London and Brussels.

“Today’s text calls on member states and private parties to step up preparations and follows a request by the European Council last month to intensify preparedness at all levels and for all outcomes,” the bloc’s executive said.

“While the EU is working day and night for a deal ensuring an orderly withdrawal, the UK’s withdrawal will undoubtedly cause disruption – for example in business supply chains – whether or not there is a deal.”

It added “there is still no certainty that there will be a ratified withdrawal agreement in place on that date [30 March 2019]”.

On the prospect of Britain exiting the EU without a deal, Prime Minister Theresa May’s official spokeswoman said the progress made so far suggests “that is not where we will end up”.

The release of the European Commission’s leaflet comes as the new Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab heads to Brussels for talks with Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator.

Mrs May, meanwhile, is making her first visit to the Irish border since the 2016 referendum vote.

The border is a major sticking point in the negotiations, with solving the question of how to keep the free flow of movement across the 310-mile frontier between Northern Ireland and the Republic a key aspect of the talks.

The threat to Mrs May’s premiership sparked by disquiet over her Brexit blueprint appears to be subsiding as MPs prepared to head off on their summer breaks.

But in an indication of the unease that remains within her party, Conservative Philip Davies has submitted a letter of no confidence in the PM’s leadership.

The MP for Shipley in West Yorkshire said he has “lost trust” in Mrs May’s ability to deliver Brexit.

A total of 48 MPs – 15% of the parliamentary party – must write to the chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee to spark a leadership contest. It is not known thus far how many letters Sir Graham Brady has received.

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