The European Union is urging member states to step up preparations for a possible disorderly British exit from the bloc, in which no deal on future relations has been agreed.
With Brexit negotiations at an impasse largely because the British Government is struggling to command a majority in Parliament, there is concern that the country could end up crashing out of the EU without a deal.
"We need to be prepared for all eventualities," Mina Andreeva, spokeswoman at the EU's executive Commission, said yesterday.
The European Commission published a document warning over the potential impact of no deal, from the ability to travel, to the collection of tariffs and the need to safeguard EU standards and regulations.
The document was published ahead of the first meeting between EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier and the British Government's new Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab. His predecessor David Davis resigned less than two weeks ago after disagreeing with the latest plan of Prime Minister Theresa May that calls for Britain maintaining extremely close links with the EU in terms of trading goods, including the use of a "common rule book". Britain and the 27 EU nations say they want a smooth Brexit when it officially takes place in March, but talks have got bogged down amid deep political divisions in London on what strategy to take.
"We have a lot of work to do with our teams," said Barnier as he welcomed Raab to EU headquarters, highlighting there were only 13 weeks left before an October target for a full deal. The remaining months would be needed for ratification in the European Parliament and national legislatures.
Raab said that after the slow progress to get a clear British position on the future relations with the EU, he was now full of "renewed energy vigour and vim" to close down the remaining differences.
"Michel has told us the clock is ticking. And so I'm looking forward to intensifying heating up the negotiations," Raab said.