Saturday 17 August 2019 11:43 am

German finance ministry warns no-deal Brexit a ‘high probability’

The German government believes there is a “high probability” that a no-deal Brexit will occur on 31 October.

An assessment made by the finance ministry came to the conclusion it is “inconceivable” that Prime Minister Boris Johnson softens his stance on the Irish backstop.

Read more: Corbyn fails to drum up support for plan to block no-deal Brexit

In the leaked document, Berlin underlines its opposition to any renegotiation of the withdrawal agreement and anticipates Johnson to use a G7 summit in Biarritz later this month to announce a breakthrough or breakdown of talks.

“Against this backdrop it’s important from an EU perspective to stick to the line we have followed up till now,” the paper read. 

The summit will be Johnson’s first appearance on a world stage since becoming Prime Minister and insisting that the UK will leave the bloc without a deal unless the backstop, preventing the return of a hard border in Ireland, is scrapped.

The EU has so far insisted that it will not remove the backstop and reopen discussions on the deal that was agreed with his predecessor Theresa May.

The German finance ministry also highlighted the possibility that the UK parliament would not agree to a deal it has rejected three times already, even if the backstop was removed.

The leaked document, first reported by Handelsblatt, said it was “crucial” all EU member states continued to support the current deal and not “lose their nerve” in the face of a disorderly Brexit.

The revelation came on the same day that chancellor Sajid Javid flew to meet German finance minister Olaf Scholz in Berlin.

Scholz tweeted following their meeting to say the two had discussed Brexit and “future co-operation”.

“The EU27 stands united and is ready for all scenarios,” he said. “The best and only way for an orderly withdrawal is the negotiated #Brexitdeal.”

German chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to meet Johnson for further talks soon.

The paper also claimed that Germany’s preparations for no deal were “largely completed” and that the EU Commission was not planning any “emergency measures”.

Read more: Government offers £25m to ensure drug supply after Brexit

Germany has passed more than 50 laws to prepare for no deal and also reached an agreement between its financial watchdog and the UK’s equivalent, the FCA, on cross-border services.

Its government has hired an additional 900 customs officials to deal with the increase in clearance procedures.