Angela Merkel has said British politicians are still living under the “illusion” that the UK will retain most of its rights and privileges once it leaves the European Union.
Addressing her parliament ahead of this weekend’s EU summit at which European leaders will formally adopt Brexit negotiation guidelines, the German chancellor said: “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. All 27 member states and the European institutions agree on this.”
“Ladies and gentlemen,” she continued, “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.”
Merkel also said it made “no sense” to negotiate a future UK-EU relationship without agreement on the UK’s financial commitment to the EU, while also hinting that parallel discussions could be possible once questions about budget contributions had been satisfied.
“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.
“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.”
Merkel said all 27 members agreed that this could be the only order in which the talks could proceed.
Merkel’s speech is a stern rebuke for Britain, which had been hoping there was some ambiguity in the EU position on whether trade talks could run in parallel with negotiations on separation terms before a financial settlement.
Minutes before the chancellor spoke, the UK foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, was pressed in a BBC interview about whether trade would have to wait until the divorce bill was settled and responded: “We’ll see.”
Source/More: The Guardian