London (AFP) – The EU’s top countries will not let Britain remain in the single market for goods without freedom of movement for people despite sympathy from “many” others for a compromise, Spain’s foreign minister said Tuesday.
Josep Borrell, the country’s new top diplomat, said the bloc’s most powerful nations will insist that Britain accepts the free movement of people for a deal — something Prime Minister Theresa May has repeatedly ruled out.
“(The British) will not win the battle, they have not enough power,” Borrell told the Guardian newspaper.
“Germany will say no, France will say no, Spain will say no.
“There are many European countries who would support the idea, because they are against free movement of people.
“But not the big, powerful ones,” he added.
Ahead of a crucial EU summit later this week expected to highlight the lack of recent progress in Brexit negotiations, Borrell said European leaders were tiring of the issue and British attempts to, as they see it, fragment the single market.
“I don’t think France or Germany will accept that,” he added, noting they were “quite angry” with London.
“When we should be discussing the eurozone and immigration, we are discussing what to do with someone who wants to leave.
“It is really a very bad allocation of intelligence, resources and money.”
Borrell said Brexit was now seen as “not a political problem” but a question of “implementation”.
“It is a pain in the ass,” he said.
May has committed to taking Britain out of the customs union and single market, ending the free movement of EU citizens to Britain when it leaves the bloc next March.
For its part, the EU insists London cannot hope to retain any parts of the single market given these so-called “red lines”, leading to deadlock in negotiations.
Business groups have become increasingly vocal in recent weeks about the dangers of a no-deal Brexit.
Downing Street has said it will detail its hopes for the future relationship in a proposal paper following the summit.