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EU urges Britain to make its mind up on Brexit

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Brussels, Jan 16: European Union leaders urged Britain Tuesday to decide quickly how it will avoid a "no deal Brexit", after the British parliament rejected a hard-won withdrawal deal.

"I urge the United Kingdom to clarify its intentions as soon as possible. Time is almost up," warned Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, adding that Brussels would step up contingency planning.

EU Council president Donald Tusk, who represents the leaders of member states, seized upon the failure of Prime Minister Theresa May to sell her Brexit plan to lawmakers to suggest Britain stay in the union.

"If a deal is impossible, and no one wants no deal, then who will finally have the courage to say what the only positive solution is?" Tusk tweeted.

Juncker, however, stressed the European parliament and institutions will press on with plans to ratify the agreement they signed with May in November last year, hoping to avoid a catastrophic break-up.

"On the EU side, the process of ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement continues," he said.

"The Withdrawal Agreement is a fair compromise and the best possible deal. It reduces the damage caused by Brexit for citizens and businesses across Europe. It is the only way to ensure an orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union," Juncker added.

"The risk of a disorderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom has increased with this evening's vote. While we do not want this to happen, the European Commission will continue its contingency work to help ensure the EU is fully prepared."

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