Friday, October 07, 2016
Merkel tells UK to ACCEPT free movement of EU migrants if it wants part of single market
GERMAN Chancellor Angela Merkel has insisted the UK will have to accept free movement of EU migrants if it wants to be part of the free-trade single market.The German Chancellor’s comments come amid ongoing disagreements among UK politicians about how we should quit the EU. Influential pro-Brexit figures favour a clean break which frees the UK from red tape, costs and restrictions on our ability to strike new trade deals with non-European countries round the world. Some argue that no trade deal with Brussels would be better than a bad one and better than the current situation allowing unrestricted immigration from Europe.They also argue that Continental exporters will be begging their own governments quickly to strike a deal with Britain to protect their lucrative export market. Mrs Merkel, who faces a general election this year in which she is under pressure from voters angry at her for letting so many Middle East refugees into Germany, indicated to business leaders in Berlin that she is ready to play hard ball to stop other countries following Britain out of the bloc. The German Chancellor, long seen as the most powerful leader in the EU, said: “If we don’t say that full access to the single market is linked to full acceptance of freedom of movement, then a process will begin where everyone in Europe starts doing what they want, and that will be extremely complicated.”She also warned the Brexit talks “won’t be easy”. German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel told the event that the EU should try to keep Britain as close as possible while safeguarding the bloc’s own interests - to pave the way for a potential future return to the European fold by the UK. Mr Gabriel said it must be made clear that full access to the single market was ultimately linked to accepting freedom of movement. “But this should not prevent us from trying to do everything to keep the Britons as close as possible to Europe. This must be our goal. “We must try to formulate offers in a way so that the Britons remain close to us, also to have the chance that they return some day,” he said. Responding to Mrs Merkel’s comments, a Number 10 spokesman pointed to Theresa May’s speech at this week’s Conservative Party annual conference in which the PM said it was wrong to see the issue as a “trade-off” between controlling immigration and trading with Europe.“We have voted to leave the EU and become a fully independent, sovereign country. We will do what independent sovereign countries do. “We will decide for ourselves how we control immigration. And we will be free to pass our own laws,” Mrs May told activists. Separately, Joseph Muscat, PM of Malta which will hold the EU’s rotating presidency next year when Mrs May triggers Article 50, was quoted as insisting the EU’s four fundamental of “freedoms” - free movement of goods, capital, services and people - could not be separated.“That cannot be negotiated. These principles are the basis for everything the EU does,” he said. It was therefore “problematic, to say the least” for Mrs May to secure her aim of both controlling immigration and giving British firms the maximum opportunity to operate in the single market. And he insisted it would not be acceptable for Britain to exit “with a superior deal or even the same deal” that it has now as an EU member. Mrs May insists she will pursue the best possible trade deal for Britain along with new immigration controls. She is set to trigger up to two years of formal Brexit talks by the end of March when she invokes Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.