A no-deal Brexit would hurt Britain more than the rest of Europe no matter how much Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government pretends otherwise, outgoing European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said in remarks published on Saturday. According to Reuters report
Britain has been pressing the European Union to amend the terms of Britain’s withdrawal agreement, saying Brussels would have to take responsibility for a no-deal Brexit if it does not compromise.
But at the end of the day that would do the most harm to Britain, Juncker told a regional newspaper in the Austrian province of Tyrol, where he regularly spends his summer holiday.
“If it comes to a hard Brexit, that is in no one’s interest, but the British would be the big losers. They are acting as though that were not the case but it is,” Juncker told the Tiroler Tageszeitung newspaper.
“We are fully prepared even though some in Britain say we are not well set up for a ‘no deal’. But I am not taking part in these little summer games,” said Juncker, who is due to be succeeded by German conservative Ursula von der Leyen once she has put together her Commission.
The European Union has said the withdrawal agreement negotiated by the previous British administration led by Theresa May will not be re-opened. Johnson says it wants a key element of that deal, the so-called Irish “backstop”, to be scrapped.
The backstop, agreed between Brussels and May’s government, aims to keep the border between the Republic of Ireland and British-ruled Northern Ireland open, and would effectively keep Northern Ireland within the EU’s single market if no alternative arrangement can be found.
“We have made clear that we are not prepared to hold new negotiations on the withdrawal agreement but only to make certain clarifications in the framework of the political declarations that regulate future relations between the United Kingdom and European Union,” Juncker said.
“We are well prepared (for no deal) and I hope the British are too.”
However UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to take Britain out of the EU at the end of October, regardless of whether he can secure a transition deal to avoid trade disruption, which is the worst-case scenario for many businesses.
Johnson looks forward “to continuing to drive forward the work of the Business Councils over the coming months,” a spokeswoman for the prime minister said.
“The prime minister wants the UK to be the best place to start, to grow and to run a business — there’s no better way to understand important issues affecting the UK business environment and its competitiveness than speaking to employers themselves.”
For achieving to leave EU by 31 October, Johnson is seeking to repair his relations with business leaders after he was quoted last year using a strong expletive to condemn business, in response to corporate concerns about the impact a no-deal Brexit would have on the economy.
The throwaway phrase became a symbol of the strains between business leaders and the Conservative Party, which before the EU referendum was a bastion of pro-business positions.
The structure of councils will remain under Johnson’s new business adviser, former Sky finance chief Andrew Griffith, according to the Financial Times, which first reported the news.
Editor: J Ping Resource from Reuters and online pictures