Britons could need visas to visit France if the UK does crash out of the EU without a deal.
As Theresa May arrived in Brussels for a crunch summit, the French government ramped up its preparations for a no-deal Brexit and said Britons would become ‘nationals of third parties’ and would probably need travel permits to visit.
Angela Merkel also warned last night that Germany was making contingency plans, raising questions about the future of tens of thousands of Britons currently living there.
Theresa May (pictured in Brussels tonight) and Donald Tusk held private talks today before the Prime Minister’s make-or-break pitch for a Brexit deal
The German Chancellor warned life would be ‘different’ for the UK once it leaves the EU and said her government was ‘seriously’ preparing for talks to fail.
All EU member states are thought to be stepping up their plans for a no-deal Brexit. But Environment Secretary Michael Gove said yesterday a deal could still be struck, even if it is not until December.
Ministers push for yes-or-no vote on any final Brexit divorce deal
MPs have voiced anger after the government argued the Brexit divorce deal must be either accepted or rejected by MPs.
Remainers and Brexiteers have been plotting to try and sway the process their way by changing the final agreement.
But ministers have now suggested amendments to the final package will not be possible.
In a memo to a Commons committee, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab said: ‘Once the deal is presented to parliament, the procedure through which it is voted upon must allow for an unequivocal decision, and one which is clear to the British public.’
The government blueprint suggests the motion will be amendable.
But the amendments might only be taken if the main motion itself passes – reducing the scope of MPs to make meaningful changes.
France was the first to ratchet up the tension yesterday, publishing guidance on the Senate website. It said Britons would become ‘nationals of third parties’ after March 29 next year if there is no breakthrough in talks and that visitors would ‘in principle’ need a visa to visit the country.
Those wanting to stay for longer than three months would need a ‘long stay visa’.
Britons currently living in France would become ‘illegals’ and need to apply for residency status and work permits.
There will be ‘consequences’ for certain professionals, including British doctors, pharmacists or tobacconists, who may no longer be able to practise in the country.
It warned there would be border checks on ‘goods and passengers’ and that animal and plant controls would be reimposed, affecting people who want to take pets abroad. These checks would also apply to Eurostar passengers.
And in what German media dubbed her ‘big Brexit speech’, Mrs Merkel said preparations for a no-deal outcome were under way.
‘This brings with it a whole array of questions, such as: how, the day after Brexit, do we manage the estimated 100,000 British citizens who, in some cases, have been living in Germany for years?
‘How do we deal, for example, with teachers of British citizenship, who are classed as German civil servants, and how should that continue? How do we appropriately prepare our authorities for the added burdens to do with customs issues?’
The sabre-rattling came just hours before Mrs May was due to address EU leaders at a summit in Brussels dubbed the ‘moment of truth’ for Brexit negotiations, after talks hit the rocks on Sunday.
EU leaders will also decide on whether to hold a further summit in November, which could become a discussion on no-deal preparations for the bloc if the impasse over the Irish border issue continues.
And yesterday a top government official told MPs he ‘can’t tell you it will all be fine’ at Britain’s borders if the country does crash out without a deal.
Jon Thompson, head of HM Customs and Revenue, told Parliament’s Brexit committee he could not give any assurances about such a scenario.
He revealed the French authorities would not talk to the UK about whether there will be extra border checks at Calais if no deal is reached.
He said: ‘They won’t have a conversation at all.’
He called for a ‘practical approach’ to the border, warning ‘the impact on France, Belgium, Ireland and Holland will also be dramatic’.
< Pet owners should see a vet next month to ensure they will still be able to take their animals abroad if there is a ‘worst case scenario’ Brexit, Michael Gove warned yesterday. The Environment Secretary said the UK risked becoming an ‘unlisted third country’ if there was no deal, which would lead to onerous new measures for pet owners.
How does Theresa May’s Chequers deal compare with a Canada-style free trade deal?
Britain would stick to EU rules on goods by adopting a ‘Common rulebook’ with Brussels, but not in the services sector.
Theresa May says this would allow the UK to strike free trade deals globally, but the scope would be limited by commitments to the EU.
The blueprint should minimise the need for extra checks at the borders – protecting the ‘just in time’ systems used by the car industry to import and export parts.
The UK Parliament could choose to diverge from these EU rules over time.
But there is an admission that this would ‘have consequences’.
Britain would set up something called a ‘facilitated customs arrangement’.
This would see the UK effectively act as the EU’s taxman – using British officials to collect customs which would then be paid on to the bloc.
The borders between the UK and EU will be treated as a ‘combined customs territory’.
The UK would apply domestic tariffs and trade policies for goods intended for the UK, but charge EU tariffs and their equivalents for goods which will end up heading into the EU.
Mrs May says her plan will prevent a hard Irish border, and mean no divergence between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain.
There would be no need for extra border checks, as tariffs on goods would be the same.
Single market origin rules and regulations would also be sufficiently aligned to avoid infrastructure.
Britain would strike a Canada-style trade deal with the EU, meaning goods flow both ways without tariffs.
As it is a simple free trade deal, Britain would not be bound by most of the rules and red tape drawn up in Brussels.
The arrangement would be a relatively clean break from the EU – but would fall far short of full access to the single market.
Eurosceptics have suggested ‘Canada plus’ in key areas such as services and mutual recognition of standards.
The UK would have broad scope to strike free trade deals around the world.
Technology would be used to avoid extra customs checks on the borders.
As a result goods travelling into the UK from the EU and vice versa would be tracked and customs paid without extra checks.
The EU has suggested this is ‘magical thinking’.
The EU says the Canada model would mean border controls are required between Northern Ireland and the Republic to protect the single market and customs union.
It insists Northern Ireland must stay in the bloc’s customs jurisdiction in order to prevent that.
Mrs May has signalled she agrees with the analysis – seemingly the reason she is reluctant to go down this route.
But Brexiteers point out that there is already a tax border between the UK and Ireland, and say technology and trusted trader schemes can avoid the need for more infrastructure.