Brexit: Dutch PM warns his voters against emulating ‘chaos’ of Britain’s departure from EU

'Look at Great Britain. The politicians and residents have forgotten what they achieved together. Now they are in chaos.'

Lizzy Buchan
Political Correspondent
Tuesday 18 December 2018 14:23
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One of Theresa May’s closest European allies has warned his voters against emulating the “chaos” caused by the UK’s decision to leave the European Union.

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte took out a full page advert in the Algemeen Dagblad newspaper, where he compared the UK to a “fragile vase” which has been shattered by divisions in the politicians and the public.

In a blow to Ms May, who considers the Netherlands leader an ally, he held up the UK as an example of what happens if people refuse to compromise and work together for the common good.

It comes after a torrid week for Ms May, when EU leaders left her Brexit strategy in tatters by rebuffing attempts to secure concessions that would reassure restive Tory MPs.

In a letter to the Dutch people ahead of upcoming provincial elections, Mr Rutte warned against factions in society who were “gripping the vase so tightly that it breaks”.

“We have seen examples of societies where they dropped the vase,” wrote Mr Rutte.

“Look at Great Britain. The politicians and residents have forgotten what they achieved together. Now they are in chaos.”

Addressing his letter to “Dear Netherlanders”, Mr Rutte said their country is somewhere that “isn’t perfect but where we do make progress”.

The advert marked the start of campaigning for upcoming provincial elections, in which Mr Rutte’s centre-right VVD faces a challenge from populist parties, including the right-wing PVV led by Geert Wilders.

It might come as a surprise to No10 as Mr Rutte has been reasonably supportive of Ms May’s efforts secure a Brexit deal.

The prime minister visited the Hague on her whistle-stop tour of EU capitals last week, after she was forced to shelve a Commons vote on her Brexit deal in the face of impending defeat.

Ms May has now said the vote will be held in the third week of January but MPs are unlikely to back her proposals without further assurances.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn has tabled a no-confidence motion in the prime minister’s leadership over the delay to the parliamentary vote.

However critics have accused him of “bottling it” as the motion will not trigger an election as it is non-binding on the government.

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