MICHEL Barnier has raised fears of a No-Deal Brexit at the end of next year after suggesting future negotiations on a trade deal might require more than three years of talks.

Speaking to MEPs, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator appeared to concede the 14-month transition period would not allow time to reach agreement on a trade and security arrangement.

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He said such talks could take “three years or more”.

The current transition period, during which the UK will stay in the single market and customs union but not be part of the EU’s decision-making bodies, finishes at the end of December 2020.

The Withdrawal Agreement allows for the transition period to be extended by “one to two years” – but Boris Johnson has said he will not trigger such a prolongation.

There is growing concern among MPs that voting through the deal without amendment will create a new cliff-edge in which pro-Brexit MPs could manoeuvre to get the UK out of the EU’s structures without a deal.

The National: The comments came in response to Brexit Party leader Nigel FarageThe comments came in response to Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage

Responding to comments made by the leader of the Brexit Party, Nigel Farage, Barnier told MEPs during a debate in the European Parliament yesterday that the “rebuilding” arrangements with the UK would take years to complete.

He said: “What we are doing at the moment is unpicking 44 years of co-operation … I was surprised by Mr Farage saying that this agreement opens doors to three further years of negotiation. Well, of course.

“We are going to have to negotiate beyond Brexit, and the divorce settlement, maybe two, three or more years for some areas, to rebuild everything that has had to be unpicked as a result of those who wish Brexit, and we have to get a balanced agreement following all the rules to avoid tax, social and environmental dumping.”

Barnier was speaking in Strasbourg after Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, hinted the EU would grant a Brexit delay beyond October 31.

Tusk told MEPs in Strasbourg: “After what I have heard today in this chamber I have no doubt that we should treat the British request for an extension in all seriousness.”

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In a direct appeal to the European Parliament, SNP MEP Alyn Smith urged Tusk to grant an extension.

He said: “An extension has been requested, albeit through gritted teeth, by a prime minister who’s desperate to pretend he hasn’t. But an extension has been requested.

“Grant it. Grant it now. Mr Johnson may have wasted time – we will not. We are trying to find solutions. We need more time to do that.”