Angela Merkel attacks British ‘illusions’ over Brexit deal
Angela Merkel today warned British politicians not to delude themselves about the future relationship the UK will have with the European Union after Brexit.
The German Chancellor said the UK would be a “third country” that “cannot and will not have” the same rights and privileges as members of the EU.
Speaking to German MPs Ms Merkel stressed that Britain’s future relationship with the bloc can only be discussed once issues surrounding the UK’s exit have been nailed down.
“Countries with a third country status – and that’s what Great Britain will be – cannot and will not have the same or even more rights as a member of the European Union,” she said.
“All 27 member states and the European institutions agree on this.”
She added: “Ladies and gentlemen, you may think that all this is self-evident. But I have to put this so clearly because I get the impression that some in Great Britain still have illusions about this, and that is a waste of time.”
Her comments, to the Bundestag lower house of parliament, comes before EU leaders congregate on Saturday to agree on a joint negotiating position on Brexit, with talks set to begin in earnest later this year.
Ms Merkel said it made “no sense” to negotiate a fresh arrangement with Britain without reaching a deal on the UK’s exit terms, including issues surrounding outstanding financial obligations and pension liabilities.
“We can only make a deal about Britain’s future relationship to the EU once all questions about the terms of its exit can be clarified to a satisfying degree,” she said.
“That means the sooner the British government is prepared to find constructive solutions, the sooner we can engage with their desire to already talk during the exit negotiations about the future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union. But first we need to know how Great Britain sees its future relationship with us.”
Ms Merkel also said that while she must protect the interests of 100,000 Germans living in the UK, she is ready to make a “fair offer to British citizens in Germany and the rest of Europe”.
"They are an important part of our community and should remain so."
Last night Theresa May held talks at Downing Street with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier.
“The PM had a constructive meeting this evening with President Juncker of the European Commission,” a Downing Street spokesman said after the talks.
“Following the UK's letter of notification under Article 50 (that it is exiting the EU), she reiterated the UK's commitment to achieving a deep and special partnership with the European Union.”