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WARNING FOR BRUSSELS: UK can WALK AWAY if you refuse to budge over Brexit, says expert

THERESA May should make it clear to EU leaders that she is prepared to walk away from Brexit negotiations if the rest of Europe fails to compromise on a sensible deal, the chief executive of a top Dutch company has said.

Johan Eliasch insisted that Brussels has much more to lose from a hard Brexit than the UK, and revealed that Angela Merkel once told him she wanted a “sensible solution” to the divorce proceedings.The Swedish born businessman, who was a government special representative under Gordon Brown and runs the sportswear firm Head, blamed Jean-Claude Juncker for the EU’s current intransigence towards Britain.

Jonas Eliasch, Theresa May and Jean-Claude JunckerGETTY

Jonas Eliasch, left, said Britain must be prepared to walk away from the Brexit negotiations


But he predicted that in the end the overriding economic interests of member states will win out against “the petulance of eurocrats”, adding that the desire to punish Britain was largely confined to Brussels.Mr Eliasch savaged the “vindictive talk” of pen-pushers in the Belgian capital, but said they will lose the “turf-war” for control over the Brexit talks after the French presidential election in May.

Jean-Claude JunckerAFP

The businessman blamed Jean-Claude Juncker for Europe’s current bitterness towards Britain


Francois HollandeAFP

But he said the eurocrat will be in trouble when his protector Francois Hollande is no longer around


Current president Francois Hollande is widely believed to have been protecting Mr Juncker from the axe despite a string of highly damaging scandals, but he is not running for a second term.Instead it is likely that either conservative Francois Fillon or populist Marine Le Pen will be installed in the Elysee come summer, and both have said they will prioritise French interests over those of Brussels.

Writing in the Telegraph, Mr Eliasch said Mr Juncker is the “chief advocate of penalising Britain for Brexit” because he sees a sensible deal as a threat top the future of the bloc.

He wrote: “For him, it looks like an existential threat to burst his chauffeur-driven bubble.

“It is in his interest that the UK is as badly damaged as possible by the outcome of Brexit, pour ‘encourager les autres’.

“But Juncker’s approach runs contrary to the interests of the member states who pay his salary.”

For us, unlike the EU, no deal is better than a bad one

Johan Eliasch

He added that while the chief eurocrat is protected by Mr Hollande “for the moment”, there will be a “change of attitude” once the socialist leaves power in the spring.Mr Eliasch predicted: “France’s new president will be more interested in defending its balance of trade with Britain – better than with any other country – than Juncker.

“We should let the EU decide if it wants businesses in its member states to pay the UK £6 billion every year net in tariffs that trade on a WTO basis was require.”

In fact, the businessman’s figures on the level of tariffs EU business would be required to pay to sell their products in Britain under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules appear to be conservative.

A report compiled by the think-tank Civitas, and published in October last year, estimated that European companies would have to fork out £12.9 billion a year, whilst British businesses would be hit for £5.2 billion.

The Swedish born businessman also suggested that the EU may in future agree to a significantly curtailed form of freedom of movement which would satisfy British voters, saying support for the current scheme on the continent is already beginning to crumble.

He suggested that Britain should propose a system of work quota arrangements which allowed EU citizens to travel to the UK and vice-versa to fill skills gaps in relevant industries.Mr Eliasch said: “The British Government should make an offer on this basis directly to the French and German governments. And it should insist that all this is settled as part of the withdrawal agreement, not a separate deal.

“If we can do so then there is also scope for a transition deal. And the UK should make it clear that it is ready to walk away without a deal if agreement cannot be reached.

“The strength of our position is that we can afford to. For us, unlike the EU, no deal is better than a bad one. Common sense prevailing, the EU will hopefully conclude the same before it is too late.“

http://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/754895/Brexit-news-Jonah-Eliasch-Britain-to-walk-away-talks-EU-trade-deal

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