PM tells UK: You can’t have your cake and eat it

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

The Euro­pean leader who will head the EU when Brexit talks are set to start, yes­ter­day warned Bri­tain “can’t have the cake and eat it”.

Prime Min­is­ter Joseph Mus­cat, also stressed the UK would be of­fered an “in­fe­rior” deal to full EU mem­ber­ship.

His com­ments will be seen as a swipe at For­eign Sec­re­tary Boris John­son who fa­mously said: “My pol­icy on cake is pro hav­ing it and pro eat­ing it.”

Malta takes over the ro­tat­ing pres­i­dency of the EU at the start of 2017, when the UK is ex­pected to trig­ger Ar­ti­cle 50 to launch the two-year process of quit­ting the union.

Af­ter meet­ing Theresa May at the United Na­tions Gen­eral Assem­bly in New York, he ar­gued that Bri­tain is “be­tween a rock and a hard place”.

“Most of my col­leagues want a fair deal for both the UK and Europe, but it has to be a deal that is in­fe­rior to mem­ber­ship, so you can’t have the cake and eat it,” he told Sky News.

He also heaped pres­sure on the Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter to be clearer about the deal that the UK govern­ment is seek­ing.

“Can you tell me if the UK govern­ment wants ac­cess to the sin­gle mar­ket? Be­cause I don’t know,” he ex­plained.

Dr Mus­cat also stressed that the EU Coun­cil, of na­tional lead­ers, would “man­date” the Euro­pean Commission to ne­go­ti­ate a deal with the UK.

Ex­perts be­lieve the Commission is likely to seek to strike a tougher bar­gain to pre­serve the EU ideals.

Mean­while, lead­ing econ­o­mists yes­ter­day halved their growth fore­casts for the UK next year to just one per cent, be­low that of the euro­zone at 1.4 per cent.

But the Paris-based Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Eco­nomic Co-Op­er­a­tion and Devel­op­ment also nudged up its pre­dic­tion for Bri­tain for this year, by 0.1 to 1.8 per cent, given that the econ­omy has been more ro­bust than feared af­ter the Brexit vote.

Hopes that the UK will be able to reach a good deal with the EU rose af­ter Euro­pean Commission pres­i­dent Jean-Claude Juncker sig­nalled that an agree­ment could be made with Switzer­land for ac­cess to the sin­gle mar­ket, in con­junc­tion with a pol­icy which would al­low jobs to be of­fered first to lo­cal res­i­dents.

How­ever, Mor­gan Stan­ley’s pres­i­dent warned that the City will be hit by Brexit.

Colm Kelleher said some firms will pull their head­quar­ters out of the UK un­less “pass­port­ing” ar­range­ments, which al­low firms based in one EU na­tion to op­er­ate across the bloc, are re­tained.

Warn­ing that “un­cer­tainty” was lead­ing to a slow­down in in­vest­ment, he told BBC ra­dio: “The City of Lon­don will suf­fer as a re­sult of Brexit, the is­sue is how much.”

Lat­est fig­ures show that 5,500 UK-reg­is­tered com­pa­nies rely on “pass­port­ing” to do busi­ness in other EU states.

Mr Kelleher’s con­cerns were echoed by Rob Kapito, pres­i­dent of global in­vest­ment cor­po­ra­tion Black­Rock, who said: “I don’t think there is any good firm that has not al­ready started to look at real es­tate in dif­fer­ent ar­eas out­side of the UK in case they have to move larger op­er­a­tions.”

He be­lieves the “un­in­tended con­se­quences” of Brexit are “very sig­nif­i­cant and they im­pact ev­ery­one across the UK”.

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