Europe

France activates no-deal Brexit plan

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After the crushing rejection of British Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal, a new motion is set to be debated on January 29.

The British parliament will debate and vote on Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit 'plan B' on January 29, leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom said.

Ms May's deal was rejected by a large majority earlier this week and Ms Leadsom said the prime minister would put forward a motion and make a statement on her next steps on Monday.

"A full day's debate on the motion will take place on January 29, subject to the agreement of the house," Leadsom told parliament on Thursday.

Theresa May has called on parliament to show Brexit unity.
Theresa May has called on parliament to show Brexit unity.
AP

Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Ms May must "ditch the red lines" on Brexit after the defeat of the plan she had agreed with the EU.

"Theresa May has to ditch the red lines and get serious about proposals for the future," Mr Corbyn said, adding that he was "open to discussions" with Ms May on a compromise as long as she ruled out the possibility of a no-deal Brexit.

"Prime minister, take it off the table and have a serious discussion about how we approach the future," he said, warning May against any attempt "to blackmail MPs to vote through her botched deal on a second attempt".

"If the government remains intransigent, if support for Labour's alternative and the country is facing the potential disaster of no-deal our duty will be to look at other options ... including that of a public vote," he said.

Mr Corbyn said Labour's alternative Brexit plan included a customs union with the EU, a strong single market relationship and protection of labour and environmental rights.

France activates plan for no-deal Brexit

Meanwhile, the French government has activated its plans for handling the effects of a no-deal Brexit, which has become "less and less unlikely", Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Thursday.

Speaking after a ministerial meeting called to discuss the British parliament's rejection of the divorce deal negotiated with the EU, Mr Philippe said: "I have taken the decision to activate the plan for a no-deal Brexit."

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe.
AAP

The plan provides for 50 million euros ($56 million) of investment in French ports and airports, "which are obviously the places most affected by the changes needed" in the event of Britain crashing out of the EU without a deal.

"In some ports that will be the construction of car parks, in others, it will be the establishment of infrastructure for carrying out checks," Mr Philippe said. 

France also plans on recruiting 580 additional customs staff and veterinary inspectors.

The French parliament is expected to complete the adoption of a bill Thursday allowing the government to pass five decrees covering preparations for a no-deal Brexit, which could create chaotic scenes on both sides of the Channel.

"We want to be ready to protect the interests of our citizens," Mr Philippe said.

"Our objective is at the same time to respect our obligations, to make sure that the lives of our citizens and, in a way, British citizens living in France are impacted as little as possible."

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