Theresa May's Brexit speech is a big 'f*** you” to the EU, says German MEP

European politicians line up to criticise Prime Minister's plan to take Britain out of single market

Benjamin Kentish
Tuesday 17 January 2017 15:17 GMT
Theresa May warns EU over 'punitive' Brexit deal

European politicians have responded negatively to Theresa May’s major Brexit speech, with one German MEP claiming the Prime Minister had effectively told the EU to “go f*** yourself”.

Ms May used the address to announce the UK would leave the single market and EU customs union and warned European leaders she is willing to contemplate not making a deal with the EU, saying no deal is “better than a bad deal for Britain”.

A number of European politicians took to social media to condemn the Prime Minister’s remarks.

Jan Philipp Albrecht, a Green MEP for northern Germany, tweeted: "May: Go f*** yourself EU but please don't let us down. *whine* *whine*"

Mr Albrecht also accused the Prime Minister of “daydreaming” in her claims about what will be possible for Britain when it leaves the EU, saying: "Sad: Everything what May tells her British people to achieve would be possible inside the European Union but will be daydreams outside it."

MEPs from several other nations were equally critical of the speech. Kathleen Van Brempt, a Belgian socialist, tweeted: "The European Union is not a menu where the UK can freely pick and choose to their liking.”

Swedish Moderate MEP Christofer Fjellner wrote: "UK leaving the single market will come at a large cost. Negotiating new free trade deals with others to compensate won't be any easy task!"

Despite the initial reaction, Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, said European countries would be quietly pleased with the speech.

“I thought it was a terrific speech, it was very powerful, it had a great internal-external logic”, he said.

“I think it will be very well received around the world and with our European friends, no matter what they may say”.

Ms May used the speech – her biggest on Brexit to date - to outline a 12-point plan for negotiations with Europe. She also warned against a Brexit deal that “punishes Britain”.

“I know there are some voices calling for a punitive deal that punishes Britain and discourages other countries from taking the same path”, she said.

“That would be an act of calamitous self-harm for the countries of Europe. And it would not be the act of a friend.”

“Britain would not - indeed we could not - accept such an approach. And while I am confident that this scenario need never arise - while I am sure a positive agreement can be reached - I am equally clear that no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain.”

Theresa May announces Britain will not remain full member of EU customs union

British politicians lined up to oppose Ms May’s announcement that Britain will leave the single market.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron told the BBC the speech was “a theft of democracy” because the Prime Minister had assumed people want “an extreme Brexit”.

“It is incredibly disappointing for anybody who thinks democracy matters”, he added.

Labour’s Chuka Umunna tweeted: “PM seems determined to tank the economy, which no one voted for, but no mention of the £350m extra [per week] for the NHS people did vote for.”

Caroline Lucas, joint leader of the Green Party, said of the Prime Minister: "Her plan for Britain to be out of the Single Market and out of the Customs Union, without any guarantees on the kind of bilateral trade deals we’ll have, is extremely risky.

"The Prime Minister has morphed a close-run referendum into a mandate for an extremely hard Brexit which will see our economy harmed as part of her desperate desire to end free movement.

Business groups welcomed the increased clarity given by the Prime Minister and her commitment to provide “certainty” but said some companies would be unhappy at the decision to leave the single market.

Read Theresa May's Brexit speech in full.

Additional reporting by agencies.

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