Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, has warned that some British people have “illusions” about the UK’s future relationship with the EU following Brexit. Merkel addressed MPs at the German parliament ahead of the summit this weekend where leaders of the remaining 27 EU countries meet to formally adopt their joint negotiating position on Brexit.
Chancellor Merkel told MPs that “countries with a third country status – and that’s what Great Britain will be – cannot and will not have the same or even more rights as a member of the European Union. All 27 members states and the European institutions agree on this”. Chancellor Merkel said that she had to state this in such clear terms “because unfortunately I have the feeling that some in Britain still have illusions on that score”. She also told MPs that it made “no sense” discussing the future relationship between the EU and UK until the exit issues, including agreement as to the payments to be made by the UK to the EU budget, are resolved. The so-called “divorce bill” has been a contentious issue in the post-Brexit vote debate, with EU officials estimating the sum could be as much as £51 billion. UK politicians have said the Government will refuse to pay a bill of that size.
Chancellor Merkel also identified the need to protect the rights and interests of German citizens currently living in the UK, estimated to be over 100,000 as her Government’s first priority. In return for the right to remain living in the UK, the German Chancellor told MP’s that Germany would be “ready to make a fair offer to British citizens in Germany and the rest of Europe”.