Former Brexit Party MEP Jake Pugh said the European Union‘s fears of having the UK as a competitor endorse the country’s reasons to leave the bloc. He noted that the if they didn’t see Britain as a competitor after Brexit, they wouldn’t have had these concerns. It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson has repeated his threat to leave Brussels with a no deal after months of trade negotiations.
Speaking to Brexit Watch, Mr Pugh said: “If the EU is so worried about a competitor on its doorstep.
“They clearly think that creates an opportunity for the UK.
“It’s almost endorsing our position wanting to be outside the single market.
“If they had no concerns about that, they can see the opportunity for us perhaps more than we can see it for ourselves.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that Britons would have to “live with the consequences” of Mr Johnson rejecting predecessor Theresa May’s plan to continue close economic links with Brussels after Brexit.
Ms Merkel spoke with six European newspapers ahead of Germany assuming the rotating presidency of the EU council on July 1, and a day after Mr Johnson’s senior Brexit adviser signalled the next phase of talks with the bloc would be tough.
Negotiations are still deadlocked after months of virtual talks – held by teleconferencing due to the Covid-19 pandemic – with fishing rights and EU calls for a so-called “level playing field” proving to be major stumbling blocks.
In comments carried by The Guardian, Mrs Merkel said: “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.”
Ms Merkel, 65, who has led Germany since 2005 and will retire from politics when her fourth term as chancellor ends next year, also said a no-deal Brexit would not be a personal defeat for her.
She said Europe could only respond appropriately to “reality” as Britain sets out what it wants at the negotiation table.
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Downing Street has since confirmed Mr Johnson reiterated that the UK was prepared to leave on “Australia terms” if no agreement was forthcoming.
Australia has no bespoke trade deal with the European Union, leading Brexit critics to describe the proposals as akin to leaving on no-deal terms, albeit with a number of mini-deals put in place to allow vital sectors, such as air travel, to continue.
A Number 10 spokeswoman, issuing a readout of a phone discussion with Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki, said: “On the UK’s future relationship with the EU, the Prime Minister welcomed the agreement on both sides to an intensified process of negotiations in July.
“He said the UK would negotiate constructively but equally would be ready to leave the transition period on Australia terms if agreement could not be reached.”