The UK will be treated “like Greece” and will have little chance of getting its own way during next year’s Brexit negotiations, the Prime Minister of Malta has said.
Joseph Muscat will chair the EU’s rotating presidency next year, during which time Theresa May intends to trigger Article 50 and begin the process of withdrawing the UK from the Union.
The Maltese PM said he expects the UK to be left with a “fair” but “inferior deal” by the end of formal negotiations and stressed that a united front will be taken by the EU’s 27 remaining nations.
“Even the most pro-UK countries - the Netherlands, Estonia, Ireland - say you cannot have your cake and eat it”, Mr Muscat said in an interview with Politico Europe. “Expect the format to be more or less like what happened with Greece.”
Greece suffered during bailout negotiations in 2015 due to a hardline approach from EU member states, which saw the Greek PM Alexis Tsipras forced to accept a difficult austerity package.
“From my discussions with the UK government, they seem to want [to negotiate by] chapters. They want to look at the single market, at sovereignty, at freedom of movement, at transposition of EU laws,” Mr Muscat continued.
“The feeling I get is that it is unacceptable to most member states. They want the single market and freedom of movement to be tackled together.”
What experts have said about Brexit
What experts have said about Brexit
1/11 Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond
The Chancellor claims London can still be a world financial hub despite Brexit “One of Britain’s great strengths is the ability to offer and aggregate all of the services the global financial services industry needs” “This has not changed as a result of the EU referendum and I will do everything I can to ensure the City of London retains its position as the world’s leading international financial centre.”
2/11 Yanis Varoufakis
Greece's former finance minister compared the UK relations with the EU bloc with a well-known song by the Eagles: “You can check out any time you like, as the Hotel California song says, but you can't really leave. The proof is Theresa May has not even dared to trigger Article 50. It's like Harrison Ford going into Indiana Jones' castle and the path behind him fragmenting. You can get in, but getting out is not at all clear”
3/11 Michael O’Leary
Ryanair boss says UK will be ‘screwed’ by EU in Brexit trade deals: “I have no faith in the politicians in London going on about how ‘the world will want to trade with us’. The world will want to screw you – that's what happens in trade talks,” he said. “They have no interest in giving the UK a deal on trade”
4/11 Tim Martin
JD Wetherspoon's chairman has said claims that the UK would see serious economic consequences from a Brexit vote were "lurid" and wrong: “We were told it would be Armageddon from the OECD, from the IMF, David Cameron, the chancellor and President Obama who were predicting locusts in the fields and tidal waves in the North Sea"
5/11 Mark Carney
Governor of Bank of England is 'serene' about Bank of England's Brexit stance: “I am absolutely serene about the … judgments made both by the MPC and the FPC”
6/11 Christine Lagarde
IMF chief urges quick Brexit to reduce economic uncertainty: “We want to see clarity sooner rather than later because we think that a lack of clarity feeds uncertainty, which itself undermines investment appetites and decision making”
7/11 Inga Beale
Lloyd’s chief executive says Brexit is a major issue: "Clearly the UK's referendum on its EU membership is a major issue for us to deal with and we are now focusing our attention on having in place the plans that will ensure Lloyd's continues trading across Europe”
8/11 Colm Kelleher
President of US bank Morgan Stanley says City of London ‘will suffer’ as result of the EU referendum: “I do believe, and I said prior to the referendum, that the City of London will suffer as result of Brexit. The issue is how much”
9/11 Richard Branson
Virgin founder believes we've lost a THIRD of our value because of Brexit and cancelled a deal worth 3,000 jobs: We're not any worse than anybody else, but I suspect we've lost a third of our value which is dreadful for people in the workplace.' He continued: "We were about to do a very big deal, we cancelled that deal, that would have involved 3,000 jobs, and that’s happening all over the country"
10/11 Barack Obama
US President believes Britain was wrong to vote to leave the EU: "It is absolutely true that I believed pre-Brexit vote and continue to believe post-Brexit vote that the world benefited enormously from the United Kingdom's participation in the EU. We are fully supportive of a process that is as little disruptive as possible so that people around the world can continue to benefit from economic growth"
11/11 Kristin Forbes
American economist and an external member of the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England argues that the economy had been “less stormy than many expected” following the shock referendum result: “For now…the economy is experiencing some chop, but no tsunami. The adverse winds could quickly pick up – and merit a stronger policy response. But recently they have shifted to a more favourable direction”
Mr Muscat added that the European Commission “will lead the negotiating but the crux will be in the member states”.
He said the European Parliament “cannot be underestimated” in the Brexit process and that the assembly’s decision to appoint former Belgian PM Guy Verhofstadt as its chief negotiator “sends a very clear political signal.”
Theresa May ended weeks of speculation by telling the Conservative Party conference she intends to launch formal Brexit talks before the end of March 2017.
The value of the pound fell to its lowest level against the dollar as Ms May indicated she may push for a ‘hard Brexit’ including tough controls on immigration.Reuse content