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MNI: EU Not Working On 'No Deal' Brexit Scenario - EuCo Tusk

MNI (London)
By Les Commons
     LONDON (MNI) - Tensions bubbled up around the EU side of Brexit talks
Tuesday after UK Prime Minister Theresa May's Commons statement claimed the ball
was in their court.
May, who wants to move negotiations on to a possible future relationship, called
on the EU side to step up yesterday.
But European Council President Donald Tusk went all the way back in time to
criticise the referendum campaign in the UK, which led to the vote to leave the
"Britain's referendum campaign was full of false arguments and unacceptable
generalisations," Tusk told the European Committee of the Regions.
He added that the leave vote had led, after "much effort" to a stronger, more
united 27 -- whose solidarity behind Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier has so far
generally held firm.
There was a general, if muted, welcome for the change of tone in Brussels after
May's Florence speech conceded the need for a transition deal. But her language
yesterday seems to have stiffened resolve once more to deal with the UK in a
firm way, which the EU maintains is fair.
"We hear from London that the UK government is preparing for a "no deal"
scenario. I would like to say very clearly that the EU is not working on such a
scenario. We are negotiating in good faith, and we still hope that the so-called
"sufficient progress" will be possible by December," Tusk said.
Sufficient progress is required in three key areas -- financial settlement,
citizens' rights and Ireland -- before the EU will allow talks to move on to
future relationship. The seal of approval was hoped for next week at the Council
summit, but Tusk's words firmly batted it to December -- or beyond.
"If it turns out that the talks continue at a slow pace, and that "sufficient
progress" hasn't been reached, then -- together with our UK friends -- we will
have to think about where we are heading," he added.
Barnier himself appeared fed up of the constant metaphors bandied around to
describe talks, including the one used by May herself.
"Brexit is not a game," he said on exiting a lunch with his UK counterpart,
David Davis, in Brussels.
--MNI London Bureau; tel: +44 203-586-2225; email:
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MNI London Bureau | +44 203-865-3812 |

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