The EU chief Brexit negotiator made the admission of his concerns at a meeting of EU lawmakers a person familiar with the situation told Reuters.
Michel Barnier reiterated that for a deal to be struck between the EU and Britain, Prime Minister Theresa May must make compromises.
On Wednesday, he tweeted that he was “working for an orderly Brexit and a new partnership that respects the UK’s sovereignty, as well as the founding principles of the EU, such as the integrity of the single market.
One diplomat involved in Brexit talks said confidence that a deal was in the offing is starting to recede.
Extending the Article 50 negotiation period may be unpalatable but could be essential
He said: “I am less optimistic now. I’m not so sure any more.”
This comes after a senior official working for the European commission President Jean-Claude Junker beefed EU ambassadors from the remaining 27 member states on how to manage an abrupt British departure.
According to Reuters, diplomats and officials said the latest round of discussions were a sign of determination to cope with a “hard Brexit” if Britain refuses to bow to the EU’s terms.
But views differ on whether this signalled a greater degree of urgency or fears of a no-deal Brexit.
One EU diplomat said: “There’s a wish not to rock the boat with too much ‘no deal’ posturing.
“It’s simply a calendar issue – if we want to be sure we’re prepared, we need to move forward.”
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Brexit: Michel Barnier has doubts whether a deal can be struck by his mid-November deadline
8.31pm update: Tory Brexiteer calls for May to resign
Nadine Dorries has called on Theresa May to resign, accusing the Prime Minister of letting people down because “she has handcuffed herself to this Chequers deal”.
The Brexiteer and MP for mid-Bedfordshire, appearing on ITV’s Peston programme, was asked if she believed Mrs May should go, to which she replied “tes”.
Ms Dorries added: “I think that if we don’t, I say it in sorrow because I was delighted when Theresa May was Prime Minister and I have been saying for many, many months to people, ‘trust her, she will deliver’.
“Sadly she has let me down and she’s let other people down because she isn’t delivering, she isn’t delivering because she has handcuffed herself to this Chequers deal.”
The MP also repeated comments from former minister and fellow ERG member Mark Francois that Tory Eurosceptics would refuse to back Mrs May’s Chequers plan.
Ms dorries added: “The Prime Minister needs to climb down and she needs to support a Canada plus free trade agreement.”
7.02pm update: EU ambassadors meet for ‘closed session’ to discuss no-deal Brexit impacts – report
EU ambassadors are set to hold a rare ‘closed session’ on Wednesday night to discuss the prospect of UK Parliament rejecting the final divorce settlement.
Topics for discussion are expected to include possible sub-deals to keep aircraft flying, medicine supllies and ports moving.
Talks will reportedly focus on using the legal basis of Article 50 exit talks to absorb the effects of a no-deal if and when it becomes apparent that negotiations are grinding to a halt and that time will run out befre Britain leaves the bloc on March 29, 2019.
A restricted agenda, seen by The Times, states: “Preparedness work has to intensify in the months ahead at national as well as EU level as uncertainty remains about the outcome of the negotiations and the ratification of a possible deal.”
6.12pm update: Barnier backtracks on mid-November deadline for final Brexit deal
Michel Barnier reportedly has doubts over whether his mid-November target of agreeing an outline deal and final package with Britain will be met, adding further doubts over whether a Brexit agreement will be struck.
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator made the admission to EU lawmakers on Tuesday, a person familiar with the meeting told Reuters.
EU leaders, who rejected Theresa May’s Chequers plan at a summit in Salzburg last week, have insisted she must make compromises.
One diplomat involved in Brexit talks said his confidence that a deal was in the offing had started to recede.
“I am less optimistic now. I’m not so sure any more.”
This comes after a senior official working for European Commission President Jean-Claude Junker briefed ambassadors from the remaining 27 member states on plans to deal with Britain tumbling out of the bloc without a deal.
5.47pm update: Irish Finance Minister warns of “significant shock” to economy with no-deal Brexit
Ireland’s Finance Minister has warned a no-deal Brexit would be a “significant shock” to the booming economy in the contry.
Paschal Donohoe said if Britain tumbled out of the bloc without an agreement with Brussels, the Republic’s productivity would grow by just 2-3 percent instead of 3-4 percent.
He said Ireland would also face “exceptional swings” in the value of sterling, which would have knock-on effects for trade.
Mr Donohoe added a disorderly Brexit would hit Ireland’s financial sector in areas such as money flow and insurance contracts.
The UK is Ireland’s main trading partner – around a third of the Republic’s exports head across the Irish Sea.
The Finance Minister, giving evidence to the Irish Parliament’s select committee on budgetary oversight, warned: “It would be a very significant shock for our economy.
“It is likely that our economy would still grow but at a significantly lower rate.”
He predicted “major structural change” in Ireland’s economic relationship with the UK after the divorce, adding: “There will be many new obligations on Irish, European and British companies.”
Mr Donohoe also repeated that more customs and agriculture officials will be required.
Brexit: Philip Hammond has moved the autumn budge forward to avoid a clash with a key Brussels summi
4.48pm update: Autumn budget moved forward to October 29 to aoid clash with key Brexit summit
Philip Hammond has moved forward his autumn budget to October 29 to avoid a clash with Brexit negotiations, according to the Financial Times.
The budget would come just a week after a crucial Brexit summit in Brussels on October 18 where a final Brexit deal could be thrashed out. It would also be three weeks earlier than last year
The Chancellor is expected to use the setpiece economic statement to reassure markets as the UK prepares to exit the EU.
Mr Hammond said on Twitter: “I’ll set out how our balanced approach is getting debt falling while supporting our vital public services, and how we are building a stronger, more prosperous economy.”
4.11pm update: Business leaders tell May of “daunting” Brexit
Business leaders have told Theresa May of their fears over Brexit, asking for more reassurances from the Prime Minister.
Mrs May had taken to the stage at a gathering of corporate bosses in New York to sell post-Brexit Britain as the best low-tax, high-skilled place to invest in.
But during a question and answer session following her speech, Steve Schwarzman, CEO at investment firm Blackstone, warned the UK’s exit from the EU was “daunting”.
He said: “In terms of downside management, we actually just bought a thing in the UK last week so I guess we are believers.
“But on the other side, things could really go off with a bad Brexit and also a change of government.
“The thing that we really worry about is how bad can things get?”
“We believe in the good thing. But in terms of just thinking about it from a risk management perspective it’s a little daunting for those of us on the outside.”
IBM CEO Ginni Rometty quizzed the Prime Minister over the risks posed to business from a bad Brexit.
She said: “All of us are in the business of enterprise risk management and so as we talk about Brexit.
“What would you do in our shoes to be planning right now? What would you do now to balance that risk?”
Brexit: Jeremy Corbyn warned that crashing out of the EU would be a ‘national disaster’
3.46pm update: Pound falls slightly but analysts remain optimistic
The pound fell on Wednesday as investors remained cautious about negotiations between Brtain and the EU on a Brexit deal.
Sterling slipped marginally by 0.1 percent to $ 1.3171 but will above the $ 1.3041 low it plummeted to last Friday.
The currency gained 0.2 percent to trade at 89.14 pence per eurohaving initally fallen against the single currency, which weakened in New York trading.
Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, said: “The pound has continued its recent recovery after the sell-off at the end of last week.
“Concerns that we might see another election appear to have disappeared for the time being, after Prime Minister May pushed back hard on the idea when questioned about it on her way to the UN in New York.”
3.25pm update: Flights between Ireland and UK could be grounded, warns aviation head
Flights between Ireland and the UK could be grounded in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the boss of Ireland’s aviation authority has warned.
In his evidence to the country’s transport, tourism and sport committee on Wednesday, Michael McGrail, the chair of the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA), spoke of the challenges the industry faces, warning the implications would start from midnight on March 29 – the date the UK leaves the EU.
He said: “Given the apparent impasse between the UK and the EU, a satisfactory withdrawal agreement, transition period and then future relationship is in doubt,” he said.
“Apart from the disruption for aviation and the travelling public, a hard Brexit would have a significant negative impact on our wider economy.
“The Department of Transport is carrying out scenario planning to ensure minimal negative consequences and the IAA is working in close collaboration with the department and other agencies in this regard.”
Pressed on the practical implications for the public and whether a no-deal Brexit would result in flights coming to an abrupt end, Mr McGrail added: “If there is a hard Brexit, then the UK becomes a third country and therefore both the air traffic management and air safety regulations that currently govern, not only the UK but the rest of Europe, would fall away.
“There obviously would be immediate practical issues I suppose from midnight on March 29.
“Having said that we know the Department is working on practical solutions to that and they have a number of scenarios they are looking at and we are working closely with them to see how those scenarios would actually work.
“The IAA nor the Irish Government can control this. It’s very much the EU.”
Theresa May addressed business leaders in New York
2.47pm update: Corbyn ‘unfit to govern’, says Tory Chairman
Conservative Chairman Brandon Lewis has blasted the prospect of Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister, with working families feeling the biggest impact.
He said: “Jeremy Corbyn has shown at every turn he is unfit to govern.
“All he offers are failed ideas that didn’t work in the past and would leave working families paying the price with higher taxes, more debt and more waste – just like last time.”
2.33pm update: Corbyn has ‘thrown down the gauntlet to the Tories’
Eloise Todd, leader of the Best for Britain capaign for a second referendum, has heaped praise on Jeremy Corbyn’s speech and called for a “People’s Vote with the option to stay”.
She said: “Jeremy Corbyn has thrown down the gauntlet to the Tories by challenging them to meet Keir Starmer’s six tests, but it’s clear that this government can’t do that. The extreme Brexiteers in the Tory party certainly can’t.
“No form of Brexit can deliver the six tests or what Labour wants – the current deadlock in Parliament and in negotiations with the EU show that. Only our current deal with the EU can meet those tests.
“That’s why the only way out of this mess is to call a People’s Vote with the option to stay. Then the public can compare our current bespoke deal with whatever this government cobbles together.”
2.26pm update: Labour will offer Scotland ‘economic chaos and incompetence’ – SNP
The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford has blasted Labour’s plans for Scotland, claiming they “aren’t fit for opposition, let alone Government.
He said: “Labour have proven they have nothing to offer Scotland but economic chaos and incompetence – failing to provide any meaningful alternative to the Tories.
“After a bitterly divided conference, dominated by rows over Brexit, racism, and sectarianism, Labour have shown they aren’t even fit for opposition let alone government.”
Jeremy Corbyn delivers his Brexit vision to the Labour Party conference
2.10pm update: ‘We will vote it down!’ Labour MP warns over May’s plan for Brexit
Shadow Equalities Minister Dawn Butler warned if Theresa May is unable to strike a good Brexit deal, Labout “will vote it down”.
She said: “What we’re trying to do is make clear what’s at stake here – we’ve already said we need to protect our standards and services, workers’ rights and jobs.
“The six steps still stand and it is up to the Prime Minister to negotiate a good deal or we will vote it down.”
2.01pm update: ‘Great lift in the conference’ – Shadow Housing Secretary John Healy
John Healy has hailed the “great lift” in Labour’s conference, adding the party is “ready to negotiate Brexit and lead Britain”.
Speaking to the Press Association, the Shadow Housing Secretary said: “There’s a great lift in the conference – it’s part of all this week Labour setting out a plan about what we would do in government to rebuild the country.
“Mr Corbyn also set out today a big challenge to Theresa May on Brexit.
“We’ve said consistently for over a year the tests a good deal must meet. If she recognises that, does a deal and meets those tests then we’ll back her in Parliament.
“If she can’t do a deal that meets those tests we’ll oppose it, if she can’t do a deal that gets through Parliament then she must have an election – we have to change the team, not just the plan, and we’re ready to negotiate Brexit and lead Britain.”
Asked which option is most likely, Mr Healey said the “honest answer is no-one knows” before adding Labour is clear over the points which it will challenge.
Brexit: Michel Barnier will hold talks after the Labour Party conference tomorrow
Paul Withers taking over live reporting from Simon Osborne.
2.03pm update: May addresses business leaders in New York
Theresa May has told executives at a business forum organised by the former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg “a post-Brexit Britain will be an unequivocally pro-business Britain”.
The Prime Minister said businesses investing in Britain will receive the lowest rate of corporation tax in the G20.
She said: “You will access service industries and a financial centre in London that are the envy of the world, the best universities, strong institutions, a sound approach to public finance and a consistent and dependable approach to high standards but intelligent regulation.”
Mrs May said her Chequers proposals had “much common ground” with the EU, despite its rejection at an informal summit of the union’s leaders last week in Salzburg.
She said: “There is no other plan that protects jobs and livelihoods and also meets our commitments in Northern Ireland, while respecting how people voted in the largest democratic exercise in our history.
“With the conclusion of the negotiations over the coming weeks, the certainty of an implementation period in which to adapt to the new arrangements, and the guarantee of frictionless trade with the EU in the future, business can look forward to the post-Brexit world with confidence.”
Brexit: Brandon Lewis hit out at Jeremy Corbyn, claiming he is ‘unfit to govern’
1.36pm update: Tories respond to Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit comments
The Conservatives responded to Jeremy Corbyn’s conference speech on social media.
They Tweeted: “Just now @jeremycorbyn claimed Labour would respect the EU referendum result…
“But yesterday he backed @Keir_Starmer who said ‘nobody is ruling out remain’
“What’s clear is that they would take us all back to square one on Brexit.”
1.30pm update: Corbyn – “Brexit is about the future of our country and our vital interests”
Jeremy Corbyn has told the Labour conference his party respects the decision of the British people in the EU referendum but warned crashing out of the EU would be a “national disaster”.
He told delegates in Liverpool: “Our priority is clear – we aim to get the best Brexit deal for jobs and living standards to underpin our plans to upgrade the economy and invest in every community and region.
“That can bring people together and meet the concerns of both those who voted leave and those who voted remain.
“We will vote against any reduction in rights, standards or protections and oppose a deregulatory race-to-the-bottom.
“Labour will vote against the Chequers plan or whatever is left of it and oppose leaving the EU with no deal.
“And it is inconceivable that we should crash out of Europe with no deal – that would be a national disaster.”
12.14pm update: Barnier and Corbyn to hold talks
European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has announced plans to meet Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Mr Barnier’s office said the pair will hold talks tomorrow after the Labour Party conference in Liverpool.
The meeting comes after Mr Corbyn and his shadow frontbench team distanced themselves from talk of a second EU referendum.
11.45am update: Raab meets Gibraltar’s Fabian Picardo
Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab had held talks with Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo.
Mr Raab said: “I was delighted to welcome Mr Picardo for a discussion about the shared opportunities that lie ahead as the UK and Gibraltar leave the EU together.
“We had a productive conversation about the importance of UK-Gibraltar ties and the vital work going on to deepen and strengthen these into the future.
“The UK is fully involving Gibraltar as we negotiate our departure from the EU, and this meeting was just one of the many ways in which we are ensuring that their priorities are taken into account.
“I look forward to working together to secure a prosperous future for the UK and Gibraltar outside the EU.”
Dominic Raab welcomes Fabian Picardo
10.22am update: Labour figures play down chances of second referendum
Senior shadow cabinet members have distanced Labour from a second Brexit referendum the day after party delegates voted to keep the option on the table.
Rebecca Long-Bailey, the shadow business secretary, said the party would not include a new referendum in its manifesto if a general election was called before March.
Mrs Long-Bailey told BBC Radio 5 Live that Sir Keir’s motion, hammered out after a late-night meeting, respected the 2016 referendum result.
Asked if a new vote would be among a list of manifesto pledges if Theresa May sent the country to the polls before Brexit day in March, she said “no”.
She added that a second referendum was “hypothetical”, adding: “What we have said is that, in a very extreme set of circumstances, nothing should be ruled out, and that includes a People’s Vote.”
She said it was not impossible Labour would vote to support a deal made by the Prime Minister, but added “we are a long way away” from anything the party could back being produced.
9.03am update: Labour “accepts and respects” Brexit decision
Shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon said Labour’s policy remained that “we accept and respect the outcome of the referendum”.
Asked on LBC radio about Sir Keir Starmer leaving open the door to a second poll, he said: “Who knows where history is going to go?”
He added: “The Labour Party isn’t calling for a second referendum.
“Labour has our own vision of Brexit, respecting, accepting the outcome of the referendum.”
8.30am update: Labour MP warns of “electoral peril” of ignoring referendum result
Labour Brexiteer Graham Stringer warned there could be “real electoral peril” if the EU referendum result was not implemented.
The MP for Blackley and Broughton told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think the actual resolution backed yesterday was a classic Labour Party conference fudge.
“I think there is real electoral peril if we start going back on that commitment, not just not from many Labour Leave voters and people who voted Labour in the past and voted Leave, but there’s also a respect for democracy amongst people who voted Remain who just respect the decision and want us to get on to it because all the major party leaders gave a commitment that the referendum would be implemented.”
Asked if he would back the Prime Minister if she secured a deal, he said: “It depends entirely what the deal is.
“If she continues with the nonsense of Chequers, no, I would vote against that.
“If it meets the Labour Party’s manifesto commitments and the expectations of the referendum, I’m a democrat, I would respect that referendum decision.”
7.30am update: French minister says EU future more important than Brexit
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said the EU has more pressing priorities than Britain’s future relationship with Brussels.
EU leaders have rejected Theresa May’s proposals for post-Brexit trade, standing firm on their position that the plan would undermine the single market.
Mr Le Maire said: ”The British made their choice, that’s fine.
“Excuse me to say so brutally, but there are more important things for us than the future of the United Kingdom. It’s the future of the European Union.
”Any decision that gives European citizens the impression that you can leave the European Union and keep all the advantages would be suicidal.”
7am update: Thinktank urges May to extend Brexit timeline
Scotland’s Fraser of Allander Institute has warned extending the Brexit timeline could be essential for the UK’s future prosperity.
It said jobs and livelihoods could be a risk in the event of a no-deal scenario and urged the Government to push back the Article 50 deadline for leaving the bloc.