10:23 GMT19 February 2020
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    European Council President Donald Tusk has said the EU's doors "will always remain open for our British friends" but that talk that UK might be better off with no deal than a bad deal is "increasingly taking the forms of a threat."

    UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said, March 12, Britain will be "perfectly OK" without a deal on Brexit and should be prepared to walk away from EU talks, which are due to be triggered within days. 

    "Our partners and friends around the EU desperately want this thing to work. They don't want more misery. They don't want to fall out with the UK. I think that actually, as it happens, we would be perfectly OK if we weren't able to get an agreement, but I'm sure that we will, for the reasons that I gave. I don't think that the consequences of no deal are by any means as apocalyptic as some people like to protest," he told the Peston TV program.

    However, in response, Tusk told the European Parliament, March 15, described suggestions that Britain would rather leave the European Union without a deal than sign an unsatisfactory one as "increasing threats."

    "When it comes to negotiations, we will have no choice but to start the withdrawal talks once the UK notifies. We are carefully preparing for these negotiations, in close consultation with Member States and the European Parliament. It is our wish to make this process constructive, and conducted in an orderly manner," Tusk told the parliament.

    ​"However, the claims, increasingly taking the form of threats, that no agreement will be good for the UK, and bad for the EU, need to be addressed. I want to be clear that a 'no deal scenario' would be bad for everyone, but above all for the UK, because it would leave a number of issues unresolved. We will not be intimidated by threats, and I can assure you they simply will not work," he said.

    "Our goal is to have a smooth divorce and a good framework for the future. And it is good to know that Prime Minister Theresa May shares this view," he said.

    Multi-Speed EU?

    Faced with the possibility of populist gains in the Dutch, French and German election, giving rise to more anti-EU sentiment, Tusk once again raised the possibility of a multi-speed EU, which some commentator see as a possible solution to the Brexit issue.

    ​"Some expect systemic changes that would loosen intra-EU ties and strengthen the role of nations in relation to the community. Others, quite the opposite, are looking for new, deeper dimensions of integration, even if they would apply only to some Member States. Such a possibility is indeed foreseen in the Treaties currently in force," he said.

    "However, considering the interests of the community of 27 countries in the context of the upcoming Brexit negotiations as well as the long-term strategic interests of the EU, I will be urging everyone to strive towards maintaining political unity among the 27."


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