Wednesday, 17 October, 2018

Brexit: Jean-Claude Juncker says United Kingdom will 'regret' decision

Critics have seized on EU proposals to maintain access to British fishing waters More Critics have seized on EU proposals to maintain access to British fishing waters More
Charlie Simmons | 14 March, 2018, 00:34

"I also heard the chancellor's words about financial services being "very much in the mutual interest" of the United Kingdom and EU".

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker sidestepped a request from U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May that the EU help develop a solution to the Northern Ireland border conundrum after Brexit.

Responding to their applause, he said the time would come "when you will regret your decision". That's pushed the European Union to consider a traditional free trade association as the best option available to both sides.

The full text of the prime minister's speech is available here.

But running through the three options for Northern Ireland, Juncker - who was flanked by the EU's Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier and his former Chief of Cabinet Martin Selmayr - said it was up to the U.K.to come up with a workable solution that would avoid the need for a hard border.

He said it was "especially important" that Britain comes up with concrete proposals for the border between British-ruled Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, which is staying in the EU.

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The European Council president was speaking in Dublin after talks with Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who held out hopes for an "evolution" in the UK's position as negotiations on the future relationship get under way.

Britain would be free to impose some new sanctions, for example denying entry to Russian individuals, but would be very limited in its ability to, say, bar more Russian imports as European Union trade policy is centralised in Brussels and will remain so, probably, for a couple years after Brexit in March 2019. "If you decide to jettison, leave behind, the common agreements and rules, then you have to accept that things can not remain as they are".

We are clear that a future comprehensive trade partnership with the European Union must include goods as well as services.

"It is time to face up to the hard facts", he added. "We have to guarantee the integrity of the single market because citizens and companies have to be able to count on the same kind of rules for citizens and companies and cherry picking is not going to be possible".

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said discussions over future trade deals were "clearly important" but the priority for firms now was getting clarity about the immediate future with the European Union after Brexit day.

An association agreement would give "a vision, an architecture" to post-Brexit relations and avoid a repetition of the complex web of individual agreements the European Union has with Switzerland.

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