Angela Merkel has said the UK must accept it chose to have a more distant relationship with the EU when it ditched Theresa May’s Brexit deal and must now understand the consequences. Appearing to harden her approach on a potential compromise, Ms Merkel said: “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 added: “With Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the British government wants to define for itself what relationship it will have with us after the country leaves.
“It will then have to live with the consequences, of course, that is to say with a less closely interconnected economy.
“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.”
Brexit news: Angela Merkel has told the UK it must ‘live with the consequences’ of Brexit
The warning from the German leader comes ahead of a week of crucial negotiations in Brussels between the UK and EU on a post-Brexit trade agreement.
Ms Merkel’s ambassador in Brussels, Michael Clauss, said earlier this month he expected Brexit to take up most of the political attention in the autumn.
This increased hopes in Britain the German EU presidency could see Brexit talks pushed back to the top of the political agenda before the transition poeriod between the UK and EU ends on December 31, 2020.
Speaking just days before Germany takes over the rolling six-month presidency of the European Council, the German Chancellor made clear her main priority is to now push through an economic recovery plan to help manage the impact from the coronavirus pandemic.
She wants to bring EU member states together in a joint economic response to “a challenge of unprecedented dimensions”.
Last month, Ms Merkel teamed up with French President to push for a EU recovery fund worth €500bn (£448bn).
The latest comments from the German Chancellor on Brexitcome after the UK ssued a huge warning to the EU and the bloc’s negotiator Michel Barnier, telling Brussels its “unrealistic positions will have to change if we are to move forward”.
The next round of negotiations between the two sides will begin in Brussels on Monday in what the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator described as “the start of the intensified process”, and will be followed by talks in London the week after.
This will be the first time Britain and the European Union will meet face-to-face since the opening of talks in the Belgian capital in March.
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David Frost published the agenda for the next meeting, which will run from Monday until Friday.
The week is packed with key elements in the post-Brexit trade agreement which the UK and EU have traded vicious blows over, including a level playing field, fisheries, trade in goods and services, criminal law and judicial cooperation, and social security.
In a series of tweets ahead of next week’s crunch talks, Mr Frost wrote: “For the first time since March we will meet face to face, in Brussels. We look forward to welcoming the EU team to London the week after.
“These meetings will be smaller and focused on seeing whether we can begin to make genuine and rapid progress towards an agreement.
“We will go to Brussels in good faith to engage with the EU’s concerns.”
But Mr Frost also issued a huge final warning to the EU and Mr Barnier, warning “UK sovereignty, over our laws, our courts, or our fishing waters, is of course not up for discussion” and that the UK will “not seek anything which would undermine the integrity of the EU’s single market”.
Boris Johnson’s chief negotiator also lashed out at the EU over the possibility of retaliating with tariffs “if we chose to make laws suiting our interests”.
He tweeted: “This needs to be a real negotiation and some of the EU’s unrealistic positions will have to change if we are to move forward.
“We have noted carefully what the EU has said in recent days on this subject and look forward to discussing it.
“UK sovereignty, over our laws, our courts, or our fishing waters, is of course not up for discussion.
“Equally we do not seek anything which would undermine the integrity of the EU’s single market.
Mr Frost concluded: “Finally, I want to be clear that the Government will not agree to ideas like the one currently circulating giving the EU a new right to retaliate with tariffs if we chose to make laws suiting our interests.
“We could not leave ourselves open to such unforeseeable economic risk.”