France's minister for European affairs, Nathalie Loiseau, sounded the alarm bells in Brussels as Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May embarked on a lightning mini-tour of EU capitals to beg for support.
“The withdrawal agreement is the only one possible,” she said, echoing previous warnings from EU leaders Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk, presidents of the European Commission and European Council.
On Monday, May abandoned an attempt to push the divorce deal she brokered with EU leaders last month through a hostile House of Commons, triggering dismay in European capitals who fear more chaos ahead.
“Our responsibility is to prepare for a 'no deal' because it's a hypothesis that is not unlikely,” Loiseau said, suggesting Britain could leave the EU on March 29th without arrangements to keep trade flowing.
“I'm very worried,” she added. “A Brexit without an agreement would be very bad news for the United Kingdom and would have consequences for France.”
On Monday night France's National Assembly voted through a bill that allows the government to take emergency measures to deal with the fallout of a no-deal Brexit, including protecting the lives on Britons living and working France.
Speaking after the vote Loiseau said: “Our collective responsibility is to ensure that France is ready for all the possibilities on March 29th at midnight.