Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, has dismissed leading Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson’s proposal that Britain might enjoy access to the European single market and restrict immigration at the same time, telling German MPs the UK will enjoy no special favours.
In a speech to the Bundestag, Merkel said negotiations over Britain’s post-EU future would not be a “cherry-picking exercise”. To applause, she warned that the UK government should be under no illusions over the decisions that would be made.
“We will make sure that negotiations will not be carried out as a cherry-picking exercise. There must be and there will be a palpable difference between those countries who want to be members of the European family and those who don’t,” she said.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph on Monday, Johnson had suggested the UK might “take back democratic control of immigration” while continuing to enjoy free market access. Merkel’s comments – echoed on Tuesday by Italy’s prime minister, Matteo Renzi – made clear that this will not happen.
“Whoever wants to leave this family cannot expect to shed all its responsibilities but keep the privileges,” Merkel said. “Those for example, who want free access to the single market will in return have to respect European basic rights and freedoms … that’s true for Great Britain just as much as for the others.”
Merkel said the UK could enjoy access to the single market only if it accepted the “four basic European freedoms – that of people, goods, services and capital”.
She added: “Norway, for instance, is not a member of the European Union but has access to the single market because it accepts open migration from the European Union.”
The chancellor’s comments made clear the stark choices facing David Cameron’s successor as prime minister.