EU won't punish UK for Brexit thinktank says as BMW pledges 'business as usual' in Britian
The message comes days after Theresa May laid out Britain’s 12-point Brexit plan, which seeks a trade deal with the EU rather than access to the single market.
Outgoing French President Francois Hollande last year urged Brussels to “get tough” with Britain, a threat that was since echoed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker and European Council president Donald Tusk.
Last week Chancellor Philip Hammond hit back, making it clear that Britain would launch a trade war with the Eurozone if pushed into a corner.
But last night the mood towards Britain was more conciliatory.
Mr Hammond said Britain would trade war with the Eurozone if pushed into a corner
There is no appetite across the Euro 27 for a punitive deal
“There is no appetite across the Euro 27 for a punitive deal,” said Marco Incerti, of the influential Centre for European Policy Studies think tank in Brussels.
“Her comment that Britain would rather take no idea over a bad deal surprised many here.
They felt it held a threatening undertone. A veiled threat. It was unwarranted.
“The attitude here is that Britain's decision to leave is punitive enough for Britain. And the harder the Brexit, the more the UK will lose.”
According to high level sources, “it was never necessarily in Brussels’ interest to keep Britain in the single market. It was a compromise move offered to secure a valuable ally.”
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The source added: “Ultimately there as a lot of naivety on both sides. The one thing the EU cannot compromise upon is freedom of movement, and any hope that there would be some kind of exemption made for the UK was fanciful.
“Conversely, there were those here in Brussels who never expected Mrs May to go as far as she did.”
He warned the UK should not take the desire of Germany industry to keep trading with the UK at all costs for granted.
Outgoing French President Francois Hollande last year urged Brussels to “get tough” with Britain
The source said: “On both sides of the Channel many are paying attention to the fact British business had campaigned to remain, and now it is complaining that Mrs May is not listening. There has been a lot of frustration.
“One thing that has hasn’t been picked up in Britain is that Germany, France and Italy are countries where ties between big business and politics are close.
Because of this, German executives may be prepared to put ideology ahead of business. They have said as much.
“The leader of BDI, Germany’s CBI, made a speech recently in which he said this is not just about selling cars, it's a political project and it's more important for us to continue in this path then sell a few more cars to Britain.”
May's Brexit speech: Europe reacts
Tue, January 17, 2017
Politicians and celebrities tweet their reaction as Theresa May unveils her 12 point plan for Britain leaving the EU.
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The British Prime Minister Delivers Her Brexit Speech
Sources at BMW said the firm remained “optimistic” of a solution that would allow it to continue to gave access to the European workforce and export without tariffs.
Last night a spokesman said it would be “business as usual” at the company’s four plants across the UK until the outcome of negotiations.
Referring to BMW’s Cowley, Oxford, plant, which employs 4,000 workers, a source added: “A big part of our success there has been tariff- free access to the EU, which remains our largest market though we export to 110 markets around the world. We have also enjoyed free movement of people in both directions and the import of parts.
“We have a little more clarity now, though we’re a long way off. We acknowledge what Mrs May has said and encourage her to prioritise tariff-free trade.”