Belgian PM: "Not optimistic” about Brexit deal

The Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel (Francophone liberal) has said that he is not optimistic about a deal being struck between the EU and the United Kingdom on Brexit. Speaking on Friday morning, Mr Michel told journalists that “My impression is the we should speed up the preparations for no deal, as the chance is real that this will be the case”.     

Mr Michel was speaking after the first day of European summit in Brussels. The UK Prime Minister Theresa May asked the EU27 for a number of concessions to amend the Brexit agreement reached between the UK and the EU in order to enable her to get it through the British parliament.

However, the agreement is not up for renegotiation. Mr Michel told journalists that “The fundamental question is whether an agreement with the UK is possible, yes or no. I am not optimistic, as yesterday no clear signal was given whether it will be passed by the British Parliament. There is a huge amount of doubt. I hope that a deal will be possible as that was and is the best solution”.   

However, Belgium needs to prepare for a no-deal scenario. "The fate of the accord is now in the hands of the British Parliament and there the great uncertainty. It is important that we in Europe, but also in Belgium are ready for both options. I have the impression that we need to speed up preparations for a no-deal, as there is aa real chance that this will be the case. In the event of a no deal there will be consequences for the Customs Service, companies, private citizens and the economy”.