Britain must go for a “hard Brexit” if it is to achieve its aims in leaving the European Union (EU), a senior German businessman has said.
Markus Kerber, head of Germany’s biggest business lobby the BDI, said that trying to strike a deal to stay in the single market – a so-called “soft Brexit – would inevitably lead to a fudge that would create greater uncertainty.
Speaking to the BBC’s Today programme, Mr Kerber said: “It’s better to have a hard Brexit that works than to have a fudge in the middle that may have to be renegotiated or doesn’t politically work and have uncertainty lingering on.
“If British decision-makers look very hard at what it is that they want and what it will be that they get, there is no other option than the hard exit.”
His comments come as Britain’s International Trade Secretary Liam Fox once again strongly hinted that Britain would seek to leave the single market.
Speaking in Manchester ahead of the Conservative Party conference, Dr Fox said the UK would be a “newly independent member” of the World Trade Organisation, a position that would put it at odds with the European Single Market.
He added that Brexit presents Britain with the opportunity to “forge a new role for ourselves in the world” that “puts British people first”.
While he stopped short of announcing any specific policies, he strongly condemned “closed economies” and “short-term protectionist instincts” – words that may be seen as implicit criticisms of the Single Market.
Mr Kerber’s comments contrast with his remarks in the lead up to Britain’s referendum when he called for European Union leaders to strike a special trade deal with the UK that would keep it inside the Single Market.
“The BDI would urge politicians on both sides to come up with a trade regime that enables us to uphold and maintain the levels of trade we have, although it will become more difficult,” he said.