There will be no further renegotiation of Britain’s relationship with the EU if we vote to Leave, European Commission president Jean Claude Juncker has said, stating clearly: “Out is out”.
In a last minute intervention that was seized on by both sides in the referendum debate, Mr Juncker said the Prime Minister had already “got the maximum he could receive” from his re- negotiation in February.
His statement appears to rule out any attempt by the Government to use a Leave vote as a chance to force further concessions from the EU while retaining some form of membership.
But the comments, made to reporters in Brussels on the eve of Britain’s historic In-Out referendum, were seized upon by the Leave campaign as evidence of the EU leadership’s intransigence.
Asked about the implications of a Leave victory, Mr Juncker said: “The British policymakers and British voters have to know that there will be not be any kind of renegotiation,” he said.
“We have concluded a deal with the Prime Minister, he got the maximum he could receive, we gave the maximum we could give. So there will be no kind of renegotiation, nor on the agreement we found in February, nor as far as any kind of treaty negotiations are concerned.”
“Out is out.”
Mr Cameron has said repeatedly this week that Britain could continue the process of reforming the EU, particularly on the issue of freedom of movement, if we remain a member.
But despite Mr Juncker’s comments apparently focusing on what would happen in the event of a Leave vote, Boris Johnson claimed that the EC President had made clear that any attempt to change immigration rules from within would be a “sham, snare and delusion”.
“If we stay in, there is no prospect of any further change,” Mr Johnson said. “This is it, folks. We have been told from the horse's mouth that any hope of further change is absolute illusion.”
However, the warning does reinforce Mr Cameron’s message in recent days that there will be no going back in the event of a Leave vote – language which was echoed by French President Francois Hollande, who said that a vote for Brexit would be “irreversible”.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi also urged a Remain vote, saying no-one in Europe wanted to see Britain “small and isolated”. Meanwhile, Nato’s secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said a divided Europe would increase instability.
“What I can do is tell you what matters for Nato, and a strong UK in a strong Europe is good for the UK and it’s good for Nato, because we are faced with unprecedented security challenges, with terrorism, with instability and an unpredictable security environment, and a fragmented Europe will add to instability and unpredictability,” he told the Guardian newspaper.
The EU referendum debate has so far been characterised by bias, distortion and exaggeration. So until 23 June we we’re running a series of question and answer features that explain the most important issues in a detailed, dispassionate way to help inform your decision.
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