LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Oct. 31 departure from the European Union will be delayed, according to the vast majority of economists polled by Reuters who again said the two sides would eventually agree a free trade agreement as the chance of a no-deal exit had fallen.
FILE PHOTO: British Union Jack flag and European Union flag are seen at the courtyard of the Prime Minister’s Office in Luxembourg, September 16, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman
Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, said on Tuesday that reaching a deal on Britain’s departure from the bloc before the scheduled date of Oct. 31 had become “more and more difficult”.
Barnier told EU ministers that he saw three possible scenarios ahead: a deal with Britain later on Tuesday, another delay to Britain’s departure, or a “breakdown” of talks, according to diplomats.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, one of the driving “leave” forces in the 2016 referendum in which Britons voted to exit the EU, has pledged to take the United Kingdom out of the bloc on that day with or without a withdrawal agreement.
But his hands may be tied as the parliament has passed a law saying Britain cannot leave without an agreement – and Johnson has not explained how he can get around that.
The chance of a disorderly Brexit dipped in the latest poll to 30% from 35% given in September. Forecasts ranged from 5% to 60%.
“Despite all the excitable commentary, I still believe no deal to be a relatively low-probability event. It will cause significant economic disruption,” said Peter Dixon at Commerzbank.
(GRAPHIC – Reuters Poll: Probability of disorderly Brexit: here)
An EU summit is due to start on Thursday and Johnson and EU leaders will face a tumultuous reckoning that could decide whether the divorce is orderly,