As she hardens the stance on a no-deal Brexit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel signalled of “no compromise” with trade after the UK’s exit from the European Union (EU)…. writes Hitesh Tikoo
Speaking to a group of European newspapers on the fourth anniversary of the Brexit referendum, Merkel said: “The UK will have to ‘live with the consequences’ of Boris Johnson ditching Theresa May’s plan to maintain close economic ties with the EU after Brexit.”
The rhetoric rejects the speculations in the British press that Merkel could seek to soften EU’s red lines to secure a last-minute deal.
Hardening her tone over the prospect of a no-deal scenario at the end of the year, Merkel added: “We need to let go of the idea that it is for us to define what Britain should want, that is for Britain to define – and we, the EU27, will respond appropriately.”
She also said that right now, her priority instead was to push through a pandemic rescue plan to stop Europe’s economy sliding into the worst crisis since the 1930s.
“If Britain does not want to have rules on the environment and the labour market or social standards that compare with those of the EU, our relations will be less close. That will mean it does not want standards to go on developing along parallel lines,” said Merkel, just days before Germany takes over the EU rotating presidency in July.
Negotiations between the UK and EU are in a deadlock over whether Britain needs to tie itself to the bloc’s developing state aid rules and common environmental, social and labour standards in return for a zero-tariff trade deal.
Merkel had repeatedly emphasised her openness to a deal that would maintain the UK’s current flows of trade with the bloc, however, she has now suggested that the door leading to such a compromise had now closed.