The European Commission has warned in an extraordinary summit today today that Britain is 'likely' to crash out of the bloc without a deal.
A spokeswoman for the bloc's executive branch warned that the EU is now 'fully prepared' for a no-deal scenario, which would strike at midnight on April 12 if the UK hasn't agreed a deal.
It comes after Theresa May's Brexit deal was defeated for a third time in the House of Commons.
Now European Council President Donald Tusk has given the Prime Minister just 10 days to draw up an alternative plan for an orderly Brexit by April 8, when she will be asked to present it to her 27 EU colleagues at the emergency summit.
'We expect the UK to indicate a way forward before then, well in time for the European Council to consider,' an EU Council source said, adding that May would be invited to 'the beginning of the meeting'.
Separately, a spokeswoman for the European Commission - the bloc's executive - increased pressure on London to come up with a plan for an orderly Brexit by warning of an abrupt divorce.
'A 'no-deal' scenario on 12 April is now a likely scenario. The EU has been preparing for this since December 2017 and is now fully prepared for a no-deal scenario at midnight on April 12,' she said.
'The EU will remain united. The benefits of the Withdrawal Agreement, including a transition period, will in no circumstances be replicated in a no-deal scenario. Sectoral mini-deals are not an option.'
The head of the European Council, Donald Tusk, tweeted: 'In view of the rejection of the Withdrawal Agreement by the House of Commons, I have decided to call a European Council on 10 April'.
The bloc’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said Britain faced a choice between a No Deal Brexit or asking for a long extension at the summit.
But a lengthy delay would come with strings attached, and EU leaders are only likely to grant it if Britain holds a second referendum, a general election or agrees to pursue a softer Brexit. It would also mean being forced into holding costly European Parliament elections in May.
Top Eurocrat Martin Selmayr has taunted Leave voters by suggesting Britain still has two weeks to call off Brexit and stay in the EU.
Selmayr, who is Secretary-General of EU Commission and the bloc's top civil servant, seized on MPs latest rejection of Theresa May's exit deal to encourage the UK to stay in the union.
Responding to a Twitter post by Remainer lawyer Jo Maugham QC, Selmayr said Britain would have its 'last chance' to stay on the EU up to April 12.
Mr Maugham posted: 'We can revoke even if we don't hold European Parliamentary elections - you can take it from Martin Selmayr.
And Selmayr replied: 'On 12 April, right before midnight #lastchance'
To ram home his point, Selmayr then tweeted: '12 April is now the new 29 March #Brexit'
French president Emmanuel Macron added another extension would not be automatic and that France was ready to handle No Deal.
But Mr Barnier left the door open for a softer Brexit deal to be done via a permanent customs union, which he said could be thrashed out within 48 hours.
When asked if the political declaration – which sets out the future relationship – could be changed to reflect this within a few days, he said: ‘My answer is yes. In the House of Commons they only needed eight votes to agree on a customs union – we are ready to accept this proposal.’
If Britain chose not to follow this course, Mr Barnier added: ‘There will be two alternatives, either a No Deal – we’re preparing ourselves for that – or with some sound justification the UK will say they need more time, an extension of the negotiating period.’
He did not put a limit on a long extension but said at the very least it would likely need to be for ‘several months’. Extending Article 50 for such a length would mean the UK having to hold EU Parliament elections in May, he said.
Mr Barnier said it was not guaranteed the leaders of the other 27 EU nations will agree to grant Britain a long extension, saying Mrs May will need to ‘soundly justify’ her case.
Speaking in Warsaw yesterday, he said: ‘We don’t want simply to delay the process, we want to solve the problems. Let me be frank, without a positive choice, the default option will be No Deal.’
Some of the remaining member states – who have to unanimously agree to a long delay – have indicated they will only grant it if Britain holds a general election, a second referendum or pursues a softer Brexit.
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