Europe reacts to the Supreme Court ruling on Brexit

‘This provides welcome certainty for the beginning of the negotiations’

Adam Withnall
Tuesday 24 January 2017 17:34
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Gina Miller speaking outside The Supreme Court in London
Gina Miller speaking outside The Supreme Court in London

European officials remained resigned to the prospect of Britain leaving the EU on Tuesday, despite a Supreme Court ruling that Theresa May must consult Parliament before triggering its departure.

Ireland’s foreign affairs minister said the Government’s commitment to meet a March deadline for triggering Article 50 provided “welcome certainty” ahead of Brexit negotiations.

Charlie Flanagan said Ireland had been preparing for Brexit long ahead of the ruling, in which eight of 11 Supreme Court judges agreed both the Commons and the Lords must approve before the two-year process of leaving the EU can begin.

He said: "I welcome the confirmation from the UK Government that it will proceed with the triggering of Article 50 by the end of March at the latest. This provides welcome certainty for the beginning of the negotiations between the UK and the EU.

"Preparations and our programme of engagement with our EU partners are continuing and we will be ready for the challenging negotiations ahead."

In Germany, an editorial in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung warned "Britain will leave the EU" regardless of the Supreme Court's decision, although other newspapers suggested Brexit could be delayed.

European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas remained bullish about the prospects of a fast trade deal being negotiated once Article 50 has been triggered.

Mr Schinas told reporters in Brussels the full terms of a withdrawal agreement – including any amount the UK would have to pay Brussels for its existing liabilities - would have to take priority.

“If one wants to divorce but to remain friends on the basis of a new relationship, first one needs to agree on the terms of the orderly separation,” he said.

“An orderly separation, where both sides honour their obligations. Then on the basis of this [one can] build a future new good relationship.”

Mr Schinas refused to be drawn on the impact of the Supreme Court ruling or the matter of whether or not Article 50 can be revoked once notification has been given.

“This was a judgment decision for the UK Supreme Court to take. It's now up to the British Government, the UK, to draw the consequences from that decision,” he said.

And accepting that Brexit is going ahead, the head of the council of euro zone finance ministers warned Britain against the “crazy” move of turning Britain into a haven of low corporation tax and regulation.

"It would be bad for Europe, but also bad for England, bad for the United Kingdom, to end up as a kind of tax paradise off the European coast," Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who is also the Dutch finance minister, told RTL TV.

"In the current climate, where we are working closely with the British to tackle tax evasion, it would be a crazy step backwards."

Mr Dijsselbloem said the Netherlands was already in talks with London-based banks looking to relocate from London, insisting they did not seem perturbed by strict Dutch rules capping bankers’ bonuses.

"The strict regulations we have are aimed to protect Dutch clients," he said. "The law already says that the strict conditions don't apply to international banks working from the Netherlands."

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