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No-deal Brexit odds: Latest predictions on leaving the EU without a deal

Boris Johnson
The odds of a no-deal Brexit have jumped since Johnson took power Credit: Simon Dawson/POOL/EPA-EFE/REX

Messages from Downing Street on a no-deal Brexit have so far been mixed with Boris Johnson securing his premiership on a "do or die" promise to take the UK out of the EU by 31 October.

Despite the new Prime Minister describing the chance of a no-deal Brexit as "vanishingly small", this remains the default legal position and £2.1bn in additional funding has been freed-up by the treasury to prepare for such a scenario.

So far Mr Johnson has also refused to meet with his European Union counterparts until they agree to remove the Irish backstop from the Withdrawal Agreement, something which the EU has completely ruled out.

According to the Prime Minister's Deputy Official Spokeswoman, "The PM wants to leave with a deal and we hope the EU will change their position on the Withdrawal Act and the backstop."

This game of chicken has seen the implied probability of the UK leaving the EU without a deal to rise to more than 40 having been at less than 20 per cent as recently as April.

EU refuses to budge on the backstop

Several EU leaders have expressed a desire to meet with Johnson and discuss the issue of Brexit, including French President Emanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, but Johnson has so far refused until the backstop is removed.

Johnson's hardball approach to negotiating with the EU is a far cry from the conciliatory one taken by Theresa May. Mrs May faced regular criticism from Brexiteer MPs who argued that she was sacrificing British sovereignty by agreeing to the backstop, and regularly voted against her Withdrawal Agreement.

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, has branded Johnson's Brexit plan "unacceptable", and accused him of using "combative" language to put pressure on other EU leaders.

Mr Barnier has made it clear that the EU will not move on the issue of the Irish backstop, helping to drastically raise the odds of a no-deal scenario.

He also urged EU leaders to show unity against the British Prime Minister, writing in an email: "PM Johnson has stated that if an agreement is to be reached 
it goes by way of eliminating the ­backstop. This is, of course, ­unacceptable and not within the ­mandate of the European Council."

This leaves the negotiations in a stalemate, as each side waits to see who will blink first in what essentially amounts to a far reaching game of political chicken.

A divided party still makes passing no-deal difficult

The current Parliamentary arithmetic does not favour the Prime Minister, the Conservatives backed by the DUP can still only manage a razor thin majority.

A number of backbench Tories have already indicated that they will vote down any motion for a no-deal Brexit, including former Chancellor Phillip Hammond, former International Development Secretary Rory Stewart and former Justice Secretary David Gauke.

Following the anti-prorogation amendment, which saw 17 Conservative MPs rebel against the Government, it will be much harder for the Prime Minister to prorogue Parliament to get a no-deal Brexit.

Even if Mr Johnson secures a revised Withdrawal Agreement from the EU without the backstop, he may still find it difficult to convince a bitterly divided Tory party to pass it.