Thursday, December 7

Merkel and Hollande warn May that UK faces rough ride with hard Brexit



If you want to leave please do so, but don’t decide for the European Union.

He added: It is not about institutions in Brussels, it’s about whether the British prime minister in the next years is still at the table, and the majority decided to not sit anymore on the centre of the European debate, and that is not good.

The summit continues on Friday, with a meeting set to take place in the afternoon between May and the president of the European commission, Jean-Claude Juncker.

On Thursday, May was given a stark warning from both Angela Merkel and François Hollande that Britain faces a rough and hard negotiation as she pursues a tough approach to Brexit negotiations including a clampdown on immigration.

Late on Thursday night, the prime minister updated her fellow leaders with a short speech on Britain’s plans for leaving the EU after a dinner of scallops, lamb and iced vanilla parfait in Brussels that had been dominated by a tense debate on Russia.

Weber also threatened the UK with tougher Brexit negotiations if it continues to try to block an increase in European defence funding.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said: “The Brits decided not to stay in.We regret this but we respect this. It is totally understandable if we as Germans, as French, as Italians, think about our long-term project.

Please don’t block it, because that would have a lot of impact on the Brexit negotiations if you do so.”

Weber also stood by his call for the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, to resign, because he said his alternative column for the Telegraph published last week showed he was convinced that the European Union was “generally a good thing” and yet campaigned against it.

Weber claimed Britain’s difficulties since the Brexit vote had increased faith in the European Union in the rest of Europe.

He said: “For the rest of the European Union I’m extremely positive for the future because of the development in Great Britain – the pound sterling, the economic damage for Britain and the debate about the future of Scotland.

You have lot of internal battles to fight on, and people all over Europe see this. So we have in Germany, Netherlands and France high support for the European Union … People see it is risky to take the union into question.”

Lord Jonathan Hill, the UK’s former EU commissioner, took issue with Weber’s objection to Britain continuing to play a central role in the bloc. “I think Manfred is wrong about that,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“It is important that we do continue to play an active part. Not a part that is going to frustrate things that people want to do, but to show that we want to continue to have a relationship.

“It is so important that over the months and years ahead we have as many bridges as possible and try and work through this in a way that secures what is in our mutual best interest. The danger that I can see is that we end up doing something this is mutually self-harming.”

He added: “I think there is a surprisingly widely held view that Britain might still decide to stay in. That partly explains why previously Donald Tusk talked about ‘its hard Brexit or no Brexit’.

Hill said he was “keen to dispel the idea that Britain might somehow stay in, because I’m absolutely clear that we leaving and that we need my former colleagues to understand that.”