European Commission boss Jean-Claude Juncker warned member states the risk of a no deal Brexit increased after the House of Commons voted down the withdrawal agreement Theresa May struck with the European Union in November. But while repeatedly expressing dismay at Britain’s decision to quit the bloc, the top eurocrat and other members of the Commission are allegedly unconcerned with the aftermath of an abrupt Brexit as their time in power draws to a close. EU expert James Crisp told LBC: “In terms of the Martin Selmayrs and Michel Barniers of this world if there is a no deal Brexit, it’s the European Commission that will have to carry the can with the EU27.
“They’re doing the negotiations and any way you boil it down if the negotiations end in failure – and end in failure that will be economically damaging to Belgium, France, The Netherlands, and other influential countries – the European Commission has to carry the can.
“One thing they have going in their favour is that this European Commission leaves office at the end of the year. They can just leave a big old mess.”
The European Commission is the executive branch of the European Union and holds the power to propose and implement legislation across the bloc following approval from MEPs from the 27 member states. Both Commission and Parliament members are elected every five years, with the next round of European Elections scheduled for May 2019.
Mr Crisp admitted the “key point” for the British Government to snatch a divorce deal from Brexit remains Ireland. Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has insisted plans to remove the controversial backstop from the agreement will not be accepted, and Brussels has rejected calls to re-open negotiations on the matter.
The Daily Telegraph Brussels correspondent continued: “The key point of this is Ireland. They have nailed their colours to the mast of the backstop.
“They dreamt this up, and the European Commission, it was their idea initially. Theresa May accepted it, built on it, so she holds some responsibility for this as well.
“The fact is for the EU now, they’ve made such a big deal about this that to climb down – to fundamentally throw Ireland under the bus – would really call into question ‘why be a member at all.”
Chancellor Angela Merkel last week urged Brussels to seek “creative” solutions to secure a new arrangement between Britain and the EU, a demand later reinforced by German businesses warning about the consequences of a no deal.
German firms have revealed they are panicking over the “fatal” consequences if the UK breaks free from the EU without a deal, which could trigger a “massive crisis” across the continent, according to industry chiefs.
Joachim Lang, director-general of Federation of German Industry, said: “A chaotic Brexit is getting dangerously close.
“Businesses on both sides of the English Channel are hanging in the air. The priority must be to avoid a hard Brexit. British politics has to live up to this responsibility.
“The cohesion of the EU-27 is the top priority for the German industry. We support the EU’s negotiating line. The ball is in London’s court.”
With just 47 days to go until the UK leaves the EU, some of the 30,000 companies across the English Channel who export to Britain are trying to be one step ahead of the expected chaos by taking contingency measures.
Thierry Pouch, chief economist of France’s agriculture chambers of commerce, admitted the news from Brussels is “not good”, referring to the EU decision to stubbornly dig in its heels and refuse to renegotiate the Brexit deal.
Mr Pouch said it is paving the way for a “nightmare scenario” which would see major EU exporters to Britain “shut out of the UK market if duties rise”.