May has been warned about the possible outcome of leaving the EU without a deal
Michel Barnier, who was named to the position last year, broke his Brexit silence and warned of dire social and economic consequences if a deal is not reached with the EU.
In a speech he said: “This scenario of a non-agreement, a no deal, is not ours. We want an agreement. We want to succeed. Success not against the British, but with them.”
Barnier, a veteran French political official and former European commissioner, warned that failure to clinch a deal would hurt Britain more.
He said: “Brexit will have important human, economic, financial, legal and political consequences.
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The absence of an agreement would have — for everyone — even more serious consequences
“Let us acknowledge that the absence of an agreement would have — for everyone — even more serious consequences.”
Officials in Brussels have estimated the UK’s share of debts, pensions and unpaid bills ranges from €55billion to €60billion (£47billion to £52billion).
He added: “The United Kingdom would be seriously affected by this situation: Two-thirds of its trade is currently framed and protected by the single market and the free-trade agreements concluded by the European Union with more than 60 partner states.”
May previously said no deal would be better than a bad deal, and that Britain might adopt a new low tax, low regulation economic model if that were the outcome.
Barnier quoted Winston Churchill to get his point across
The eurocrat quoted Winston Churchill, as he continued: “The price of greatness is responsibility. When a country leaves the union, there is no punishment. There is no price to pay to leave, but we must settle the accounts. No more, no less.
“We will not ask the British to pay a single euro for something they have not agreed to as a member.
“The best relationship with the EU would be to remain a member of the Union. The second best one would be to be a member of the European Economic Area like Norway.”
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Tory MPs have reacted angrily to the figures reported in a divorce bill
EU officials are understood to be discussing the possibility of taking Britain to the International Court of Justice in The Hague if the Government refused to settle the divorce bill they demand.
A draft copy of the EU's negotiating strategy obtained by a Dutch newspaper today put forward the possible court action.
The newspaper quoted an official saying that if Britain refused to pay, “in that case it is, see you in The Hague!”