Top Eurocrat Admits EU Has ‘No Plan B’ if UK Walks Away, Swedish Govt Want Brexit Stopped

Brexit
THIERRY CHARLIER/AFP/Getty
JACK MONTGOMERY

Germany’s European Commissioner, who is responsible for the EU budget, has admitted the bloc has no “Plan B” if Britain refuses to hand over its so-called divorce bill in the event of a ‘No Deal’ Brexit — while Sweden’s foreign minister says she wants the 2016 referendum overturned.

Günther Oettinger was last in the headlines when he suggested the “markets [would] teach the Italians to vote for the right thing” when it looked as though the national elections which elevated Luigi Di Maio’s Five-Star Movement and Matteo Salvini’s League into a populist coalition government would have to be re-run.

Now he is making waves in the European press again, with a coded admission that the EU has no fallback position if a ‘No Deal’ Brexit results in Britain declining to pay the massive, £39 billion-plus divorce bill it signed up to during the first phase of the exit negotiations.

“We are optimistic the Brits are willing to fulfil these obligations… and we have for the moment no reason to develop a plan B,” he confessed.

Oettinger, who as EU budget commissioner knows the bloc is facing a large hole in its budget once Britain’s substantial net annual contributions cease, sought to reassure his audience that there is “for the moment no reason to expect a totally different position [on paying the divorce bill] in the next days, weeks or months” — but Britain’s Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union has warned that the bill could be declined, scaled down, or deferred if the EU refuses to agree on a constructive trade deal.

This could wreak havoc on Brussels, which wishes to up the pace of its activity despite losing Britain, but is facing resistance from eurosceptic countries in Central Europe which want its budget cut, and Western European countries like France and Germany, which do not want their own payments significantly increased to make up the shortfall.

It is in this context that Swedish foreign minister Annika Soder, speaking in Austria, suggested she would like it if the British public’s vote to Leave the European Union could be reversed altogether.

“You know that we wanted to keep you and we look at the polls and we see there may be some hesitation… this may be not very polite, [but] we hope there will be a solution where the UK will still be in the EU,” she said.

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