Amid British Brexit Turmoil, EU Braces for Worst

Britain’s political turmoil is again making headlines across the English Channel, with a number of European commentators criticizing Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s handling of Brexit.

But others, like conservative French lawmaker Nicolas Bay, saluted Johnson for standing firm, and honoring Britain’s 2016 referendum to leave the European Union.

In Brussels, European Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said the EU’s position toward Brexit has not changed.

“There may be twists and turns in political developments in London right now, but our position is stable,” she said. “We are willing to work constructively with Prime Minister Johnson and to look at any concrete proposals as long as they’re compatible with the withdrawal agreement.”

The commission is freeing up millions of dollars in disaster funds for farmers, workers and companies to cope with a potentially chaotic or hard Brexit — although governments and the EU parliament must sign off on the plan. It also published a checklist for European businesses trading with Britain to prepare for Brexit — and a citizens’ hotline.

Europeans have been preparing for months for a potentially chaotic Brexit. In France, where roughly 20,000 businesses export to Britain, the key port city of Calais is conducting simulations to prepare for both deal and no-deal scenarios. France, along with Belgium and the Netherlands, has hired hundreds more customs agents to cope with expected backlogs.

Experts predict Brexit will deal an economic blow to the EU as well as Britain — at a time when countries like Germany and Italy are braced for economic slowdowns.