POLITICS
30/01/2019 16:14 GMT | Updated 31/01/2019 09:06 GMT

EU Warns No-Deal Brexit More Likely Than Ever After Commons Vote

Juncker and Barnier reject changes to existing agreement.

The risk of a no-deal Brexit has increased following the votes in the House of Commons last night, the EU has warned.

In a blow to Theresa May, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker told the European Parliament on Wednesday the existing Withdrawal Agreement was the “only deal possible”.

“Yesterday’s vote has further increased the risk of a disorderly exit of the UK. We have tried everything in our power to prepare for all scenarios, including the worst,” he said.

MPs voted by a margin of 317 to 301 last night to back a plan which requires the prime minister to replace the Withdrawal Agreement’s controversial backstop with “alternative arrangements”.

But Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, also told the parliament today the backstop would not be changed.

The backstop is part and parcel of the Withdrawal Agreement and this agreement will not be renegotiated,” he said.

And he hit out at British critics of the deal negotiated between the UK and EU.

“It is tough, I find it hard to accept this blame game they are trying to play against us,” he said.

Speaking about the vote in the Commons, Barnier added: “It is therefore urgent that we should be prepared for all scenarios and we should bring in contingency measures which are more essential than ever.”

May held talks behind closed doors with Jeremy Corbyn earlier this afternoon after she managed to win a majority for her new negotiating position.

In a blow for pro-EU MPs, a cross-party move to force the government to delay Brexit and avoid a no-deal exit on March 29 was defeated.

In a series of votes in the Commons, MPs also rejected a no-deal Brexit. While the result has increased pressure on the PM to formally rule it out, the vote was not legally binding on the government.