Thursday 19 September 2019

Rutte says he hopes new British leader ‘reads his briefs’ on Brexit

Photo: Arno Mikkor via Flickr

Britain’s new prime minister should read his briefs and understand that Irish backstop is not there to punish the United Kingdom, Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte has said in an interview with the BBC.

I hate Brexit from every angle. I hate a no-deal Brexit from every angle,’ Rutte said. ‘The backstop is not there because the Netherlands or anyone wants to punish the United Kingdom, it’s there because it’s the only logical result, given the red line.’

Rutte said he hoped that when the new prime minister had read all the briefs and become aware of all the details of the Brexit negotiations that he will realise ‘something has to change in terms of the British position’.

‘If that happens – a new election, a referendum, a change in terms of the red lines – if that is possible then we can look at the political declaration,’ Rutte said.

The Dutch prime minister has been a vocal critic of Brexit and stated several times that the British government will have to change its position on issues such as customs union and the internal market to renegotiate the withdrawal agreement.

Outside the EU, the UK will not be big enough to have an important position internationally, Rutte said.

‘It will be a diminished country. It is unavoidable because you are no longer part of the European Union and you are not big enough to have an important position on the world stage on your own,’ he said.

‘I’m absolutely convinced if it’s a hard Brexit, economically the impact is even bigger. I don’t want it but I cannot make changes to the UK negotiating position,’ he said.

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