The British vision of the UK’s future relationship with the EU after Brexit is “based on a pure illusion,” said Friday the President of the European Council Donald Tusk.
“I am pleased that the British government seems to be moving towards a more detailed position, but if the media reports are true, I fear that the British position is based on pure illusion,” said Tusk, President of the European Council following an informal summit of the 27 EU member states (excluding the United Kingdom) in Brussels. The statement prompted his colleague and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to joke: “You have your headlines for tomorrow,” he told reporters.
The former Luxembourg Prime Minister then took a hit at David Cameron, a former British prime minister who had to resign after losing the vote on Brexit he himself had called. “Where is Mr. Cameron now?” He asked reporters.
“I’m not the British prime minister, it would be good news for Britain if I was, but I’m not,” he went on to say.
Thursday evening, British Prime Minister Theresa May had found her key ministers after an eight-hour marathon meeting, during which she outlined her plans for an agreement “that works for all components of the UK (…) and allow for the most flexible trade possible,” according to her spokesman.
London says it wants to leave the single market and the customs union, end the freedom of movement of migrants and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights. At the same time, Theresa May wants to negotiate an agreement that would reduce as much as possible customs duties and administrative procedures.
A British minister, who was not present at the meeting on Thursday, said an agreement was reached that Britain would seek to align with EU rules in some areas of the EU’s economy, but would retain a right to depart from them.
Donald Tusk also blasted the “return” of what he describes as a “philosophy” aiming to win on all fronts. “From the very beginning, it is one of the key principles of the EU that there can be no selectivity and a single market à la carte. This will continue to be a key principle, there is no doubt (…) We will be extremely realistic in evaluating our possible new proposals,” he said.
In these negotiations on the partnership that will unite the two parties after Brexit and the post-divorce transition period, the EU insists that the fundamental principles remain inseparable, in particular the freedom of movement for goods and services and people.
The EU’s general guidelines on the future relationship with Britain will be announced at a European summit on March 22 and 23, “whether the UK’s position is ready or not,” said the president. the European Council, arguing that the EU could not “wait and do nothing”.
Ms May has to officially clarify the UK’s position on Friday March 2nd, the day after a meeting with Donald Tusk in London.