The Financial Times reported today that the 27 Members States which make up the EU have delivered a clear message to the UK on Brexit: don’t expect any favours for leaving the EU. Joseph Muscat, the prime minister of Malta, and the new EU president following the latest six-month rotation, told the BBC that EU leaders are not “bluffing” when they say that, post-Brexit, the UK will be left without full single market access if it refuses to adhere to the principle of the free movement of people. When asked about the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson’s, suggestion that the UK could stay in the single market and place limits on the freedom of movement, Mr Muscat told the BBC “It’s just not happening”.
Mr Muscat made it clear that EU unity is imperative, and whatever the post-Brexit relationship, the UK must not be in a better position than it enjoys now as a member of the EU, saying “We are all going to lose something but…there will not be a situation when the UK has a better deal than it has today”. Mr Muscat also said that the details of the new relationship between the UK and EU could be delayed, as the two entities must first reach agreement on a range of other details once Prime Minister May triggers Article 50 in March this year. These include establishing the bill the UK must pay before leaving the EU, and working out the logistics of what will happen to the UK/Republic of Ireland border.