Mr Barnier said the EU will discuss alternatives to the controversial Northern Ireland backstop, but only if Parliament passes Mrs May’s agreement. He also denied Brussels would be responsible for a no deal Brexit, and claimed “many people in the UK” would agree.
The comments are a hammer blow to Mr Johnson, who had hoped to renegotiate the deal to remove the Northern Ireland backstop.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron had given him 30 days to find “alternative arrangements” to the backstop.
Writing in The Sunday Telegraph Mr Barnier commented: “I am not optimistic about avoiding a “no deal” scenario but we should all continue to work with determination.
“The EU is ready to explore all avenues that the UK government may present and that are compatible with the Withdrawal Agreement.
Michel Barnier said a no deal Brexit is now likely (Image: GETTY )
Boris Johnson has vowed to take Britain out of the EU on October 31 with or without an exit deal (Image: GETTY )
“Uncertainty has festered for far too long in the UK, in particular in Northern Ireland, as well as in Ireland and all other EU countries, for that matter.”
The Northern Ireland backstop in Mrs May’s deal was designed to prevent any hard Irish border.
There were fears this could violate the Good Friday Agreement, and that any border posts would become targets for dissident republican terrorism.
Under the agreement the UK would automatically fall into a customs union with the EU unless the two sides could agree an alternative arrangement during the transition period.
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Tens of thousands marched against the proroguing of Parliament on Saturday (Image: GETTY )
In this case Britain would struggle to sign independent trade deals with other countries, and would still have to abide by a significant proportion of EU