Merkel fires toughest Brexit message
The German chancellor has warned the UK it will pay a price if it limits migration from the EU after Brexit, in her toughest message so far about the potential costs to Britain of leaving the bloc.
The UK will pay a price if it limits migration from the EU after Brexit, Angela Merkel warned yesterday in the German chancellor’s toughest message yet about the potential costs to Britain of leaving the bloc.
“This is not meant maliciously, but you cannot have all of the good things and then say there’s a limit of 100,000 or 200,000 EU citizens allowed to enter the UK,” the chancellor said in Berlin. “That won’t work. At that point, we’ll have to think about which restrictions we make on the European side to compensate for that.”
In uncompromisingly stark comments, the German chancellor highlighted the problems involved in everything from industrial supply chains and border crossings for 250,000 pets a year to the risk of renewed violence in Northern Ireland.
Berlin is concerned that anti-EU rhetoric in the UK general election campaign could further poison the atmosphere and increase the risks that the exit negotiations could quickly collapse.
Ms Merkel insisted that she did not want to punish Britain. But she made clear that the UK should not expect special treatment in a sharp response to recent attacks on the EU from leading British Brexiters, including the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, who claimed last week Brussels was trying “to bleed this country white”.
She warned about the dangers of the UK possibly trying to seek economic advantage by opting out of the EU’s common employment and environmental protection rules.
“We must consider how we will react when naturally the competitive landscape can shift.”
She added: “We are tied together by very finely woven chains of added value. If every part had to go through customs, these chains would be broken and suppliers could relocate . . . It will be very very complicated, because everything must be regulated.”