Commenting on Michel Barnier’s press conference in Brussels this morning, Heidi Alexander MP, leading supporter of Open Britain, said:
“These are yet more hard truths for the Government. The Prime Minister claims Brexit will be cost-free, but the EU are clear that it will not be painless.
“The decision to leave the Single Market means the best option is off the table even before negotiations have begun. The UK will be weaker and worse off as a result of this cavalier approach.
“Despite Ministers’ claims that we will have the ‘exact same benefits’, the EU has said that this is not available.
“This is yet more evidence for why everyone must vote against giving the Prime Minister a blank cheque to pursue a hard Brexit that will put jobs at risk.”
Notes to editors:
These are the key points from Michel Barnier’s press conference:
- There will be a phased approach to the negotiations, as set out in the European Council guidelines, not parallel talks on withdrawal and trade, as the Government had hoped.
- An agreement on a future relationship between the Union and the United Kingdom can only be finalised and concluded once the United Kingdom has become a third country.
- As soon as the European Council decides that ‘sufficient progress’ has been achieved on the withdrawal agreement, an overall understanding with the United Kingdom on the framework for the future relationship should be identified during the second phase of the negotiations under Article 50.
- Matters that could be part of such transitional arrangements are not covered by the present recommended negotiating directives and will be identified at a later stage.
- Preserving the integrity of the Single Market excludes participation based on a sector-by-sector approach, something the Prime Minister said would be part of her negotiation.
- A non-member of the Union, which does not have the same obligations as a member, cannot have the same rights and enjoy the same benefits as a member, which directly contradicts David Davis’ promise to deliver the ‘exact same benefits’ as we have inside the Single Market.