Brexit: France warns to prepare for 'no deal'

French Foreign Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau outside the Elysee Presidential Palace in Paris on July 25, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

BRUSSELS (AFP) - The Brexit accord that has stumbled in the British Parliament is the "only deal possible" and Europe must prepare for London to crash out without an agreement, France warned on Tuesday (Dec 11).

France's Minister for European Affairs, Ms Nathalie Loiseau, sounded the alarm bells in Brussels as Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May embarked on a lightning mini-tour of European Union capitals to beg for support.

"The withdrawal agreement is the only one possible," she said, echoing previous warnings from EU leaders Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk, presidents of the European Commission and European Council respectively.

On Monday, Mrs May abandoned an attempt to push the divorce deal she brokered with EU leaders last month through a hostile House of Commons, triggering dismay in European capitals who fear more chaos ahead.

"Our responsibility is to prepare for a 'no deal', because it's a hypothesis that is not unlikely," Ms Loiseau said, suggesting that Britain could leave the EU on March 29 without arrangements to keep trade flowing.

"I'm very worried," she added. "A Brexit without an agreement would be very bad news for the United Kingdom and would have consequences for France."

Mrs May was due in Brussels later in the day to see Mr Juncker and Mr Tusk, after meeting Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in the Hague and Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.

She has no plans to meet France's President Emmanuel Macron before Thursday's EU summit.

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