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Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab. Photo: Peter Nicholls/AFP/Getty Images

With the Brexit deadline approaching and breakthroughs proving elusive, U.K. officials today released a contingency plan for crashing out of Europe without an exit deal.

Between the lines: The immediate consequences of a "no-deal Brexit" include possible shortages of medicine and benefits losses for British pensioners living in Europe. A bad breakup between the world's 5th largest economy and a bloc that accounts for nearly half its trade would also have long-lasting consequences that stretch across the continent and beyond.

Sebastian Payne, political editorial writer for the Financial Times, emails from London that negotiations remain deadlocked:

  • "If no withdrawal agreement is struck before 29 March 2019, Britain will spill out of the bloc without formal trading arrangements. It would be forced to move onto basic World Trade Organization terms, which would introduce tariffs and customs checks overnight. Both sides expect it would bring immediate administrative and economic disruption."
  • "The May government is upping preparations for such a scenario — mostly to threaten Brussels that it is prepared to walk away from the talks if it does not broker a good deal. The U.K. can prepare as much as it wants for a no-deal Brexit but critically, it cannot control what the EU would or would not do."

The bottom line: "The chances there will be no deal by March are around 50/50 right now. Ultimately, however, a deal is in everyone’s interests. It would risk so much disruption that nobody — especially Theresa May — is willing to let it happen. Instead, if progress is still lacking throughout the fall, the Brexit negotiations would most likely be extended until a smooth Brexit deal is in sight."

What they're saying: U.K. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who campaigned for "remain" during the Brexit battle, has been warning far and wide of the consequences of "no-deal" for European relations.

But when I interviewed him on Tuesday evening, he insisted that the U.K. would be better off outside of Europe even if no deal is reached.

"I think, geostrategically, it could be hugely damaging. But in terms of Britain’s narrow self-interest, our ability to prosper and survive and thrive economically, I’m totally confident we can do it.”

Q: If we're having to talk about survival, surely you'd be better off in Europe?

“If the only variable in your equation is the degree of friction with your neighboring markets... the lower the friction, the faster you’ll grow. But it isn’t the only variable. ... We’d have to make sure we make other reforms to other parts of the economy that meant that we’d more than made up for it."

Go deeper

Updated 4 hours ago - World

U.S. airstrike kills senior al-Qaeda leader in Syria, DOD says

A displacement camp near the village of Qah in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. Photo: Ahmad Al-Atrash/AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. airstrike in northwest Syria on Friday killed senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

Why it matters: Syria serves as a "safe haven" for the extremist group to plan external operations, according to U.S. Army Maj. John Rigsbee.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.