August 6, 2019 / 10:37 AM / 13 days ago

EU open to Brexit discussions but prepared for no-deal - spokeswoman

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission is willing to discuss Brexit with Britain over the coming weeks, a spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

She said while the bloc’s executive was hoping to avoid a “no-deal” exit, the EU was prepared for such an outcome.

“The Commission does remain available over the coming weeks should the United Kingdom wish to hold talks and clarify its position in more detail, whether by phone or in person,” the spokeswoman told a news briefing.

Earlier on Tuesday a senior British government source said London was “ready and willing” to do a deal to leave the EU if Brussels renegotiated the agreement, denying that a no-deal Brexit was Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s central plan.

Johnson, who took over as prime minister two weeks ago, has taken a hard line with the EU, demanding that it show willingness to change the divorce deal it agreed with his predecessor before negotiations can restart to secure Britain’s smooth departure from the bloc.

The deal agreed with Theresa May in November has been rejected three times by the British parliament.

“A no-deal scenario is not our preferred option,” the Commission spokeswoman said, adding the agreement reached was the “best possible” and could not be re-negotiated.

“Our no-deal preparedness protects the EU 27 and the interests in the case of a no-deal Brexit,” she said.

Reporting by John Chalmers and Daphne Psaledakis; Writing by John Chalmers; Editing by Janet Lawrence

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