European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has said the blame will lie with Britain if it leaves the EU in a no-deal Brexit.
Juncker said he and chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier were doing their utmost to secure a Brexit deal, but the bloc would not accept any blame if efforts end in failure.
He warned a no-deal scenario would be catastrophic for the UK and the EU.
“Our chief negotiator Michel Barnier and I are doing everything possible to get an agreement,” he told German publication Augsburger Allgemeine.
“But if we don’t succeed in the end, the responsibility would lie exclusively on the British side.”
With the UK set to leave the EU on 31 October, reports suggest Brussels diplomats are unimpressed with Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s efforts to land a fresh agreement.
Former PM Theresa May negotiated a deal over two years only for MPs to reject it three times over concerns around the so-called Irish backstop.
So far Britain has not offered an alternative to the backstop, which is designed to prevent a hard border in Ireland after Brexit.
May’s deal was rejected over fears the backstop would indefinitely tie the UK into a customs union with the EU.
“We will want to and need to seal a free trade agreement,” Juncker added.
“But that won’t happen just like that, as some in Britain imagine. Some of the trade deals we sealed in my term of office took many years to reach.”
Meanwhile, City A.M. exclusively revealed yesterday that Johnson may use EU law to ensure Brexit is delivered.
Government figures believe they can invoke European law’s supremacy over British law to bypass the Benn Act, which forces Johnson to seek a Brexit delay until 31 January if no deal is in sight by 19 October.
Juncker’s comments come as Johnson’s chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, said the only way MPs can defuse public anger is by delivering Brexit.
That follows Johnson saying in parliament that the way to honour murdered Labour MP Jo Cox would be by delivering Brexit.
Read more: Boris Johnson condemned for Jo Cox comments
The PM has not apologised for what critics have called inflammatory language he used in parliament.
In response 120 archbishops and bishops have warned against “further entrenching our divisions”.
Main image credit: Getty