November 15, 2018 / 11:00 AM / a year ago

French PM Philippe: We have to be ready for 'no-deal' Brexit

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe attends the questions to the government session at the National Assembly in Paris, France, September 18, 2018. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

PARIS (Reuters) - French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Thursday that ongoing political uncertainty in Britain over Brexit raised concerns about whether the agreement struck with Brussels to leave the European Union would end up being ratified.

“We need to prepare ourselves for the possibility of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit,” Philippe said during a visit to Dunkirk, a port city in northern France where locals are concerned about the impact of Brexit on business and trade.

“It will escape no one that the current political situation in Britain could fuel uncertainty... over the ratification of the accord,” he said, referring to the resignation of several British ministers over the deal.

Philippe said the withdrawal agreement, reached between Britain and the European Union after 17 months of negotiation, was a “step forward”, but crucially it now depends on ratification by Britain’s parliament as well as the parliaments of the European Union and the 27 other EU member states.

The concern in Britain is that Prime Minister Theresa May could face a no-confidence vote given the growing opposition to the deal within her Conservative Party. If she were forced out, the risk of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit would greatly increase.

Philippe said that if Britain were to leave the EU without a deal in March next year, it would cause “very serious problems” for France, especially around trade across the Channel.

“We therefore need to prepare ourselves for the eventuality that remains on the table — one that I must say very clearly we do not wish for — that of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit,” he said.

Reporting by Jean-Baptiste Vey and Richard Lough; Editing by Luke Baker

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