March 15, 2017 / 8:56 AM / 9 months ago

EU's Tusk warns 'no deal' Brexit would hit Britain hardest

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Council President Donald Tusk dismissed suggestions that Britain would rather leave the European Union without a deal than sign an unsatisfactory one as “increasing threats”.

FILE PHOTO - European Council President Donald Tusk takes part in a news conference after being reappointed chairman of the European Council during a EU summit in Brussels, Belgium, March 9, 2017. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

“The claims increasingly taking the form of threats that no agreement will be good for the UK and bad for the EU needs to be addressed,” Tusk told the European Parliament on Wednesday.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, who this week won the right to launch divorce proceedings from the EU has said she will begin the formal process of leaving the bloc later this month, beginning two years of talks.

READ MORE: UK has not assessed economic impact of leaving EU without deal: minister

May’s government said it was preparing prepare not only for a negotiated settlement with the European Union but also for no Brexit deal.

“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,” Tusk, the chair of EU leaders’ meetings who will play a key role in Brexit talks, said.

Tusk also reiterated his concerns over plans to allow some of the remaining 27 EU states to foster closer ties after Brexit, leaving those more reluctant member of the bloc behind.

READ MORE: Scottish independence referendum in 2018/19 would not be legal - UK minister

While such options is already stipulated in EU laws, talk of a “multi-speed” Europe has intensified in recent months, as Western EU states are increasingly convinced it is the only way forward for the bloc, despite objections from the easterners.

Tusk said there was “no doubt that the idea of a multi-speed Europe will be one under discussions” as the 27 remaining states prepare to mark on March 25 the 60th anniversary on agreements that laid the foundation for the bloc.

“However, considering the interests of the community of 27 countries in the context of the upcoming Brexit negotiations... I will be urging everyone to strive towards maintaining political unity among the 27,” Tusk said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, as well as the head of the bloc’s executive European Commission in Brussels are in favour of letting those willing to do so to deepen their cooperation in areas they can agree on.

Additional reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek and Waverly Colville, Writing by Gabriela Baczynska, Editing by Alexander Smith

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