Merkel tears into UK Government at Bundestag Brexit address

Nathanael Williams

Europe’s most powerful politician goes all out to warn UK away from Brexit “illusions” before negotiations begin 

THE GERMAN CHANCELLOR Angela Merkel has today (Thursday 27 April) rebuked the UK Government, telling it not to have any “illusions” that it would have the same rights as an EU member after it leaves the bloc. 

In an address to the Bundestag (German Parliament), she made clear that until the outstanding issues of EU nationals’ rights were secured and previous financial obligations from the UK to the EU were settled there could be no start to the negotiations proper.

Taking a hardline, Merkel also said that UK’s financial commitments to the EU were non-negotiable, stating that these commitments would mean the UK Government would be paying into the EU for the next two years.

“Some people in the UK are suffering under illusions.” Angela Merkel

She said: “Some people in the UK are suffering under illusions. A third-party state will not have the same rights or even superior rights to a member state.

“This may sound self-evident, but I have to say this because some in the UK seem to have illusions on this point. And to disagree on this point would be wasted time.”

This Saturday (29 April) the remaining 27 members of the EU bloc will meet in Brussels to draw up their collective position on negotiations with the UK. The Brussels summit on April 29 follows the triggering of Article 50 by UK Prime Minister Theresa May on March 29 which she claimed was “irreversible.”

The German coalition government made up of the Christian Democrats (CDU) and Social Democratic Party (SPD) have provided mixed messages on both the UK’s attitude to Brexit negotiations and Scotland’s place in the talks. The SPD have previously made favourable signals to Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, with former vice-chancellor and current foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel saying that the EU and Germany would welcome an independent Scotland into the bloc.

“It must be clear that there is a difference between whether one is in or out.” Volker Kauder

The conservative faction of the coalition led by Merkel has been more measured in its attitude to any discussion of the UK and Scotland, not wanting to create, in its view, more instability. 

Describing what she expected the stance of the EU 27 to be, she added: “We can assume that the remaining 27 members will send out a strong signal of unanimity on Saturday.”

Volker Kauder, the head of Merkel’s CDU party in the Bundestag, fully supported his leader’s harder line on the UK as she outlined her negotiating strategy.

Warning that negotiations would be tough, he said: “It must be clear that there is a difference between whether one is in or out.”

He added that the UK would continue to be a partner to European states within Nato in the fight against terrorism.

Picture courtesy of DW

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