A few days ago Frau Merkel warned
of danger to the EU of Singapore-style UK on its border. Well, bring it on, and the quicker the better.
“UK poses threat if it fails to match regulation standards of bloc” says the German chancellor. Merkel has highlighted the economic danger posed by Britain if it is allowed to become a Singapore-on-Thames as Boris Johnson’s Brexit envoy outlined a plan to ditch the UK’s commitments to stay aligned to the EU’s social and environmental standards.
In talks with European commission officials, the prime minister’s negotiator, David Frost, insisted that the UK is seeking a “clean break” from an array of the bloc’s regulations, a policy choice from the new British government that has caused alarm in other EU capitals.
As the UK’s new vision was laid out in Brussels, the German chancellor, speaking in the Bundestag, said she was determined to strike a deal with Johnson but that a no-deal Brexit could not be ruled out. Merkel also warned of the economic threat that the UK could pose. Johnson had privately told EU diplomats during his time as foreign secretary of his desire to build a “buccaneering” Britain, which has been seen as an indication of his plan to recast the UK as a low-tax and low-regulation state.
Merkel’s comments indicate the difficulty that the British government will face in striking what it has described as a “best in class” free trade deal if it fails to match EU standards on goods, workers’ rights, tax and the environment, among others.
EU sources have said that the UK will need to sign up to more onerous, level playing-field obligations than Canada due to the UK’s proximity and the size of its economy.
Diplomats in Brussels said that the British government would be presented with a “Canada minus minus”, potentially including tariffs on some goods, if it seeks to strike a free trade deal without the full array of commitments currently contained in the political declaration on the future relationship agreed with Theresa May. [Who?]
Merkel told German parliamentarians “We still have every chance of getting an orderly [Brexit] and the German government will do everything it can to make that possible, right up to the last day. But I also say we are prepared for a disorderly Brexit. But the fact remains that after the withdrawal of Britain, we have an economic competitor at our door, even if we want to keep close economic, foreign and security cooperation and friendly relations.
“On the one hand, as Europeans we are weaker with Britain’s exit – that has to be said – but on the other hand, this is the moment to develop new strengths. No country in the world can solve its problems alone and if we all work against each other we will not win. I believe in win-win situations, if we work together”.
A UK government spokesman said “The UK is seeking to agree a free trade agreement. The EU have always said this is available. Any level playing-field provisions will need to reflect this end state”.