German minister hints at 'special status' for Britain's EU relationship post-Brexit
Britain could be granted a “special status” in its relationship with the EU once the terms of Brexit have been hammered out, a German foreign minister has said.
Michael Roth did not detail what such a relationship might look like, but said it would likely differ from that enjoyed by the likes of Norway, Switzerland and Turkey.
In an interview with Reuters, he said: “Given Britain's size, significance and its long membership of the European Union, there will probably be a special status which only bears limited comparison to that of countries that have never belonged to the European Union.”
But he added that the triggering of Article 50 - the formal start of the exit process - should not be stalled, following reports at the weekend of a possible delay.
City insiders in close contact with government figures told the Sunday Times the new ministries for Brexit and International Trade may not be ready in time.
But Mr Roth said: “Until the end of the year should really be sufficient time to get organised and adjust to the new situation.”
Elsewhere, he repeated warnings from Germany that Britain could not “cherry pick” the terms of a relationship in its Brexit deal.
Theresa May has said she wants to retain Britain's access to the single market, but has not explained what that might mean for obligations such as accepting the free movement of people.
Asked whether Britain could retain access to the market whilst restricting free movement, Mr Roth said: “I can't imagine that."
He added: "The free movement of workers is a highly prized right in the European Union and we don't want to wobble on that.”