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May’s Dutch ‘Ally’: ‘Weak’ UK ‘Too Small’ to Be World Player After Brexit

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte receives his British counterpart Theresa May for a work lunch at the Catshuis, The Hague, on July 3, 2018. - The two heads of government will discuss the political and economic relations between the two countries and about the Brexit. (Photo by Koen van Weel …
KOEN VAN WEEL/AFP/Getty
VICTORIA FRIEDMAN

The Netherlands’ Prime Minister Mark Rutte has said that the UK is “too small” to be a world player after Brexit.

Prime Minister Rutte, often sold as Prime Minister Theresa May’s ‘closest ally’ out of all European leaders, made the comments in an interview with Spanish newspaper El País on Wednesday and claimed the UK was on a “precipice” of a “devastating” no-deal Brexit.

Asked whether he thought the European Union would be “weakened” by the United Kingdom’s exit, Mr Rutte replied, “It is the United Kingdom that will be weakened by Brexit.

“It is already weakening,” the establishment centre-right politician continued, “it is a waning country compared to two or three years ago.

“It is going to become an economy of intermediate size somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. It is neither the U.S. nor the EU.

“It is too small to appear on the world stage on its own.”

Such condescending comments from an alleged ally of Mrs May comes in contrast to the U.S.’s praising of Brexit and promises of trade with the UK after the country leaves the EU.

President Donald J Trump has said he wants a “big and ambitious UK-U.S. Free Trade Agreement” after Brexit, his administration later saying it will be “cutting-edge” and would “further expand” the relationship between the two countries.

American Ambassador Woody Johnson has praised the UK and told Britons to embrace Brexit, asking in June, “How can a country with this great a history, this great a language, this great a legal system and this great a presence not be successful?”

Mr Rutte’s belief that the UK will suffer most from Brexit has been countered by numerous European business leaders and politicians who have expressed concern about the economic impact of the UK leaving the EU and trading with the bloc on World Trade Organization (WTO) terms.

This week, Italy began exploring bilateral arrangements in preparation for the UK’s WTO exit, the country fearing the impact of shipping delays and tariffs, with the UK being Italy’s third largest market for food products.

And in October, Germany’s Federation of German Industries expressed fears over a no-deal Brexit — a particular issue for automobile manufacturers as one in seven cars made in Germany are sold in the UK — concerns which may be weighing heavier on the nation after it was reported on Thursday that Germany narrowly avoided a recession in the last three months of last year.

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