LONDON — One of the most prominent official voices within the European Union — Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat — admitted that other EU officials were at one time convinced that Britain would not go through with Brexit.
Muscat is a prominent EU official because Malta currently holds the EU presidency. He said that only up until a few weeks ago, EU officials thought that Britain’s government was highly likely to reverse the decision to take the nation out of the EU by triggering Article 50 and therefore starting the formal two-year negotiation process.
“I think that was the widespread impression,” said Muscat on the BBC Today programme.
“I also think whoever thought so, maybe did not understand the British situation. So yes there was a widespread belief this could be short-circuited.”
Prime Minister May is expected to trigger Article 50 on Wednesday around lunchtime. She is set to take Britain towards a “hard Brexit” — shorthand for Britain leaving the European Union without membership of the Single Market in exchange for having full control over immigration into the country.
he pound is falling against the dollar and the euro ahead of the beginning of the official Brexit progress later in the day. In turn, the FTSE 100 has opened slightly higher due to the weak pound.
Like many FTSE 100 companies, Rio and BHP are getting a boost from the weak pound. Both are multinational companies who report earnings in dollars, so a weak pound makes their sterling-denominated share price look cheap.
He said (emphasis ours): “All of us have been pretty clear in our approach that we want a fair deal for the UK but that kind of fair deal can’t translate itself into a superior deal.
“I know that there is absolutely no bluffing from the European side, at least in the council meetings I have attended, saying ‘we will start in this position and then we will soften up’. No, this is really and truly our position.
“[Brexit talks could get] complicated and could be a bit of a Catch 22 – it won’t be a situation when one side gains and the other side loses. We are going to lose something but there will not be a situation when the UK has a better deal than it has today.”
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