Michel Barnier: UK facing 'no-deal' Brexit unless it makes 'positive proposals'
24 January 2019, 06:37 | Updated: 24 January 2019, 11:03
The UK will leave the European Union without a deal unless it makes "positive proposals", the bloc's chief negotiator has warned.
Michel Barnier said the withdrawal agreement between the government and the EU was the best one available given Prime Minister Theresa May's "famous red lines".
They include an end to freedom of movement and to membership of the single market - the European trade bloc which guarantees the free movement of goods, capital, services and labour.
According to Reuters, Mr Barnier told German radio station DLF that if no "positive proposals" are made by Britain "it will be [a] no-deal Brexit".
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"If something changes with the red lines, then we are ready to talk about that," he added.
"We can't make any compromises on the fundamental principles. We can't dilute the single market or split the EU."
Mr Barnier also said the controversial "backstop" - the customs plan to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland if a free trade deal is not reached - could not be time-limited because that would defeat its purpose of guaranteeing no hard Irish border.
"We have to maintain the credibility of this reassurance," Mr Barnier said.
"It cannot be time-limited... It's not just about Ireland."
Mrs May has told MPs she will hold more talks around the backstop as she seeks to get a Brexit deal through parliament.
Hundreds of Irish police officers could be deployed to guard the border if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the Irish Independent reported.
The newspaper cited a meeting of Police Commissioner Drew Harris with senior staff on Wednesday.
Mr Barnier is due to hold talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Thursday as Mrs May meets with trade union leaders in London to discuss Brexit.
In an unusual move, union chiefs will attend Whitehall discussions, which are expected to involve the prime minister.
TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady, Len McCluskey of Unite, Dave Prentis of Unison and Tim Roache of the GMB, will all hold separate meetings with ministers.
The discussions are part of Mrs May's bid to try and get widespread political backing in finding a Brexit agenda that would command a majority in the Commons after her plans were heavily rejected by MPs.