September 7, 2018 / 8:12 AM / 2 months ago

UK's former EU ambassador warns of Brexit crisis - Guardian

Ivan Rogers, Britain's former Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the European Union, leaves the The Houses of Parliament after giving evidence to a parliamentary sub-committee, in London, Britain February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s former ambassador to the European Union has warned that there is a higher risk of a Brexit crisis than financial markets are currently pricing in, the Guardian reported.

The United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union on March 29, yet little is clear: There is, so far, no full exit deal, rivals to Prime Minister Theresa May are circling and some lawmakers are pushing for a rerun of the 2016 referendum.

Ivan Rogers, who served as EU ambassador from 2013 to 2017, warned in a speech in Dublin that negotiators on both sides risked “sleepwalking into a major crisis” that could poison relations for a generation.

“There is now, in my view, a higher risk than the markets are currently pricing of a disorderly breakdown in Brexit negotiations, and of our sleepwalking into a major crisis,” the Guardian quoted Rogers as saying.

“Not because either negotiating team actively seeks it, but precisely because each side misreads each other’s real incentives and political constraints and cannot find any sort of landing zone for a deal, however provisional.”

Both London and Brussels say they want to get a divorce deal at the October 18 EU Council but many diplomats think that target date is too optimistic. Britain has stepped up planning for the consequences of potentially not getting a deal.

Rogers criticised what he cast as the delusional thinking of some British Eurosceptics and said they knew that a genuine no-deal Brexit “would bring several key sectors of the economy to a halt”, the Guardian reported.

With just under seven months left before the UK is due to leave the EU, the country, its politicians and its business leaders remain deeply divided over Brexit.

Recent opinion polls show voters think May is handling the process badly and there may be a slight move towards support for staying in the EU.

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge, editing by James Davey

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