Ham­mond ac­cuses EU of ‘para­noia’

Chan­cel­lor says Euro­pean lead­ers must let go of ideas of pun­ish­ing Bri­tain for vot­ing to leave the bloc and stop ‘con­stantly threat­en­ing mem­bers’ who want to walk away

The Gulf Today - - WORLD -

LONDON: Philip Ham­mond has said Euro­pean lead­ers are “back­ward­look­ing” and pre­oc­cu­pied with “para­noia” about other coun­tries leav­ing the bloc af­ter Brexit.

The chan­cel­lor said EU must let go of ideas of pun­ish­ing Bri­tain for vot­ing to leave the bloc and stop “con­stantly threat­en­ing mem­bers” who want to walk away.

His com­ments came dur­ing a three­day trip to Ger­many aimed at drum­ming up trade deals af­ter Brexit, where Ham­mond told EU lead­ers that they should be clear on the fu­ture re­la­tion­ship they want with the UK — as “it takes two to tango.”

He also made a joint pitch to busi­ness lead­ers with Brexit Sec­re­tary David Davis, where they called for a be­spoke post-brexit trade deal with the EU which would be the “most am­bi­tious in the world.”

In an in­ter­view with the Ger­man news­pa­per Welt am Son­ntag, Ham­mond said: “We hear a will­ing­ness and en­thu­si­asm in the USA and from many other coun­tries around the world to make new trade deals with us. But we don’t hear that from Europe.

“We hear from Europe only back­ward­look­ing stuff. ‘Are you sure you want to leave?’ Or ‘It’s a bad de­ci­sion to leave.’ Or ‘You must be pun­ished for de­cid­ing to leave.’

“Well, we are leav­ing and we want to re­tain the clos­est pos­si­ble part­ner­ship with the Euro­pean Union. But we can only have that if the Euro­pean Union also wants it.” Asked if a soft Brexit would en­cour­age other coun­tries to leave, the chan­cel­lor said: “I can un­der­stand that para­noia. But imag­ine you are run­ning a suc­cess­ful, thriv­ing club.

“If one mem­ber leaves, you don’t im­me­di­ately panic that all the other mem­bers MIGHT LEAVE, But ARE Conident they will want to re­main.

“You can­not re­ally run a club if you are con­stantly threat­en­ing mem­bers who de­cide to leave. You should rather re­dou­ble your ef­forts to re­main at­trac­tive for new and ex­ist­ing mem­bers.”

Ham­mond Also stood irm on DE­MANDS that inan­cial ser­vices were IN­CLUDED in any Brexit deal — an idea that has been op­posed by chief Brexit ne­go­tia­tor Michel Barnier.

The chan­cel­lor said it was not a “re­al­is­tic propo­si­tion” for the UK to ac­cept a post-brexit trade deal that does not in­clude ser­vices and that the EU would be “crazy” to cut it­self off from the City.

Ear­lier, Bri­tain and Spain said they HAVE HELD THEIR irst In­for­mal Brex­itre­lated talks this week in Madrid touch­ing on how Bri­tain’s fu­ture de­par­ture from the Euro­pean Union could ap­ply to Gi­bral­tar.

The EU’S guide­lines on ne­go­ti­a­tions for Bri­tain’s fu­ture re­la­tion­ship with the bloc granted Spain veto rights over the is­sue of Gi­bral­tar, the tiny out­crop at the tip of the Ibe­rian Penin­sula that London has con­trolled for three cen­turies against Madrid’s wishes. The Span­ish Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs said on Fri­day that HIGH-RANK­ING oficials From THE min­istry re­ceived a Bri­tish del­e­ga­tion on Thurs­day. It did not elab­o­rate.

THE BRI­TISH FOR­EIGN OFICE SAID THE “in­for­mal meet­ing” was “pro­duc­tive” and that Gi­bral­tar au­thor­i­ties had been in­volved in set­ting it up and were briefed on it. It added Bri­tain is com­mit­ted to de­fend­ing Gi­bral­tar’s pri­or­i­ties.

Mean­while, it is re­ported that the Nether­lands and Spain have not reached an agree­ment about how Bri­tain should leave the Euro­pean Union, a Dutch FI­NANCE Min­istry OFI­CIAL SAID on FRI­DAY, deny­ing an ear­lier re­port of a deal that drove ster­ling sharply higher.

Bloomberg re­ported that the Span­ish AND DUTCH inance min­is­ters HAD AGREED to work to­gether for a softer Brexit agree­ment that main­tains close ties be­tween the EU and Bri­tain.

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