Brexit: European Parliament group leader says 'I don’t care any more' about UK interests after Article 50 triggered

Manfred Weber warns of tough talks ahead

Joe Watts
Political Editor
Thursday 30 March 2017 08:35 BST
EU group leader: 'I don’t care any more' about UK interests

One of the most influential members of the European Parliament has said Europe will no longer concern itself with Britain’s interests, as he declared “I don’t care any more about the City of London”.

Chair of the largest centre-right European People’s Party grouping Manfred Weber also poured scorn on Theresa May’s plan for linking security cooperation to Brexit talks as he warned of “tough negotiations” ahead.

The German MEP went on to claim that Britain would find it difficult to compete and protect industries in the globalised world against big countries like China.

Mr Weber was speaking as politicians across Europe worked out how to respond to the UK’s triggering of Article 50.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that Brexit meant Europe is “going back in history” and is “a very wrong decision” and “a real mistake”.

But as he set out how he would now approach the UK he said: “I have not the Russians’ interests in mind, I have not the Americans’ interests in mind, I have only these in mind who elected me. I am a member of the European Parliament, the leader of the biggest group, and that’s why we have from now on, the interests of 450 million citizens in mind – that is EU citizens.

“I can give you a clear example for this – I don’t care any more about the City of London interests. I will care about the interests of Amsterdam, Dublin and Frankfurt and Paris.

Prime Minister Theresa May is loking for free trade deal with EU

“That is what I have to do. These negotiations will be very tough.”

Ms May repeatedly linked security cooperation to Brexit talks in her letter officially launching them on Wednesday, in a move that was perceived as a threat to withdraw collaboration on fighting crime and terror.

Mr Weber said the desire to cooperate with EU agencies like Europol, while not being in the EU was a clear contradiction.

He added: “Britain has decided to leave the European Union and yesterday [Wednesday] I heard that Theresa May says she wants still to cooperate with Europol – Europol is a 100 per cent EU institution…so please tell me Theresa May what leaving the European Union means?”

The MEP then warned that the UK would find life outside the EU difficult as it faces the forces of globalisation.

He said: “I cannot imagine how Great Britain with 60 million inhabitants can really compete in a globalised world with China.

“When you have for example, the steel dumping China is doing at the moment, that you can really defend your industry alone. Five hundred million EU citizens could do so and can do so, but Brits alone not.

“So I think Britain is facing a lot of uncertainty in the future.”

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