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No-deal Brexit is ‘more likely than ever,’ Donald Tusk tells EU leaders

No-deal Brexit is ‘more likely than ever,’ Donald Tusk tells EU leaders
European Council President Donald Tusk has said that a ‘no deal’ Brexit is “more likely than ever before” and that it must be prepared for.

Tusk made the comment in a letter to EU leaders ahead of meetings scheduled for 17 and 18 October. “We must prepare the EU for a no-deal scenario, which is more likely than ever before,” Tusk wrote in the letter which acknowledged that the Brexit negotiations had “proven to be more complicated than some may have expected”.

Despite the tough situation, however, Tusk said that EU leaders should “remain hopeful” as there is still “good will” on all sides.

He also said the fact that the EU is preparing for a no-deal scenario “must not, under any circumstances, lead us away from making every effort to reach the best agreement possible” for all involved.

The UK government's handling of the Brexit negotiations has been repeatedly criticized by EU leaders and political analysts. British Prime Minister Theresa May has played down criticisms of her Chequers plan, however, suggesting that it all amounts to negotiation tactics from Brussels.

The Chequers plan, which May was expecting would receive a warmer response from Brussels, would see the UK stay in the single market for goods but opt out of production regulations. EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier has said that would give the UK a "huge competitive edge" over EU companies.

The border between Northern Ireland the Republic of Ireland remains biggest sticking point in negotiations. Barnier has said the EU is open to a deal in which the entire UK – not just Northern Ireland – would remain within the Customs Union, eliminating the need for any border checks. But hard-Brexit factions have strongly opposed any extension of the customs union after Brexit.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has criticized May's latest statement about the contentious border issue, saying the whole thing was “beginning to feel like Groundhog Day.” May will meet EU leaders on Wednesday with both her Brexit plans and potentially her political leadership on the line.

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