Hopes for a negotiated Brexit deal fade as EU negotiator Michel Barnier separately met senior British and Irish ministers for another round of inconclusive talks on Friday.
Britain is due to leave the European Union in less than five weeks. Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to hammer out a new divorce agreement in time for a European summit on Oct. 17. But his negotiator, Brexit Minister Stephen Barclay, has yet to present Brussels with any legal text for the eventual treaty, and time is running out. Prime Minister Johnson wants to leave the EU on Oct. 31 with or without a deal. Alhough the prime minister is legally required to submit a request to extend Brexit on Oct. 19 should no deal be ratified by then, it is still unclear what Johnson will do.
Britain's National Audit Office warned on Friday that there is "still significant work to be done" to ensure the country doesn't face a medication shortage in the case of a no-deal Brexit. "There is a risk of delays to supplies for health and social care if the U.K. leaves the EU without a deal," it said. With "reasonable worst case" predictions forecasting a 40-60% decrease in the flow of goods across the English Channel, between southern England and France, the office expressed worry that the Department of Health and Social Care was lacking information on its stockpiles levels. The office estimates that of the 12,300 medicines used in Britain, roughly 7,000 come from or via the European Union.