EXCL UK will ask for EU membership in ten years’ time, Angela Merkel ally predicts
Britain will ask to rejoin the European Union in a decade, a close ally of Angela Merkel has predicted.
Elmar Brok, a long-time associate of the German Chancellor and fellow member of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany, suggested to The House magazine that the UK would struggle to thrive as an independent country.
“Many people believe that England is a world power… what is Britain alone compared to the United States, China, Russia or India? It is an island in the northern Sea. I would say the same thing about Germany, but Germany is bigger and economically more successful,” he said.
“We will see. In a few years’ time, Britain will be back… At least in ten years’ time, [they will] ask for membership.”
Mr Brok, who was the longest serving MEP before standing down at last month’s European elections, also claimed Brexit was a “purely English question”, an “Eton boys’ game” and claimed a no deal Brexit would be “ten times harder” for Britain than the EU.
The 73-year-old also blasted Boris Johnson’s bid to become Prime Minister but said it would be a "big surprise" if the former London mayor, who he has known for 25 years, did not enter No10.
“I have fun with him. We’ve had many cigars and whisky in our lives together,” he told The House.
When asked if he thought the former foreign secretary would make a good prime minister, he cited Mr Johnson's record while a Brussels correspondent at the Daily Telegraph.
“As someone who was a journalist here, who was not very often very close to the truth when he was at the Daily Telegraph, when he invented stories – he has not changed. It’s fun to talk to him – it’s really fun to talk to him, intellectual fun. But to run a country?”
Meanwhile, EU officials have also sought to shut down Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt’s push to renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement, and warned that it is now “almost impossible” for the UK to leave on 31 October with a deal.
Both candidates have pledged to alter the backstop and to leave with no deal – though only Mr Johnson has pledged to leave on Halloween “come what may, do or die”.
“We will wait and see until we meet the Prime Minister what the UK’s positions are. The one big thing that keeps coming up is the renegotiation of the Withdrawal Agreement which we have said we will not do,” an EU official said.
“The synonyms that are being used such as disaggregation or whatever are the same. We’re simply not going to do that.”
They added: “It’s almost impossible now for the UK to leave on the 31st October with a deal, given parliamentary procedures and everything. Even with all the will in the world, to leave with a deal we’re looking at a really, really tight timetable.
“It’s not perhaps the wisest thing to pick a date and say that’s absolutely the date that we’re leaving.”
An EU official also categorically ruled out agreeing to signing a GATT24 stand-alone agreement in place of a deal, as proposed by Mr Johnson. “There is not a single chance of that happening,” they said. “It is not possible to do a GATT 24 transition period. It’s just not going to happen.”