Guy Verhofstadt, the man appointed by the European Parliament to negotiate Brexit talks, has been talking frankly about how difficult he plans to make Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.
Business Insider reported last week how Verhofstadt would be an unpopular choice for Brexit negotiator with pro-Leave British politicians due to his well-publicised opposition to Brexit.
He has also asserted on multiple occasions that the EU would not grant Britain an exit deal which would allow the country to enjoy single market access and opt-out from the free movement of people.
This is the type of Brexit deal both Theresa May and foreign secretary Boris Johnson have reportedly been eyeing up.
Just to make his position on Brexit even clearer, the former Belgian prime minister and so-called staunch federalist posted tweets on Tuesday morning which will have Brexiteers even more worried.
The first was this:
Verhofstadt’s negotiating position couldn’t be clearer. He will not allow Britain to pick and choose which of the EU’s “inseparable” four freedoms it wants to enjoy once Brexit is delivered. If Theresa May wants access to the European Single Market, then she will likely have to be prepared to accept the free movement of EU citizens into Britain.
This gives the prime minister an almighty headache. High-levels of EU immigration to Britain was one of the main reasons 52% of Brits voted Leave. If the Brexit deal May negotiates doesn’t bring an end to freedom of movement to Britain, millions will be enraged, including many of her own Conservative MPs.
He also posted this:
Verhofstadt says Brexit should be completed before 2019. This means May would probably have to trigger Article 50 — the official process of Britain leaving the EU — either this year or early 2017. Here lies another big dilemma for May.
The prime minister has urged the country to be patient and says she will not accept anything but the best deal for Britain. But, realistically, unravelling decades of political and legal ties will take much longer than two or three years. It took Canada seven years to reach a comprehensive trade agreement with the EU.
David Davis, one of the ministers responsible for delivering Brexit, said on Tuesday the process of leaving the EU would be the most “complicated negotiation of all time” and warned of a “frustrating” period of time before May triggers Article 50.
The EU is in a strong negotiating position when it comes to Brexit and Verhofstadt is fully aware of it. Nobody in Britain seems to know what Brexit means at the moment — but Verhofstadt has a clear idea of what he believes it means.
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