Senior politicians in the European Parliament expressed concern over a potential no-deal Brexit during a debate in Strasbourg on the current state of negotiations with the UK.
Manfred Weber, leader of Parliament’s centre-right EPP group, warned, “at the moment the UK is not leaving the EU, but businesses are leaving or planning to leave.”
He added, “Brexiteers claimed Westminster would take back control, but now they have shut it down”.
On the possibility that the UK may develop a so-called ‘Singapore Economic Model’, that could lead to economic and social dumping, he said that the European Parliament “will not accept any kind of dumping at our doors."
He finished by saying that if UK policymakers cannot get out of the Brexit deadlock they are in, “the British people should be given the possibility to vote again” in a second Brexit referendum.
“His [David Cameron's] little adventure ended with huge divisions in British society. Be sure of one thing: we will never let Brexit divide Europe and the European project” European Parliament Brexit Steering Group chair Guy Verhofstadt
Iratxe García Pérez, leader of the Socialists group, echoed Weber's sentiments, saying, “If the UK needs time to host fresh elections or a referendum, we should give them that space.”
On the UK’s predicament, she said, “The person responsible for the current chaos has only one name: Boris Johnson.”
“A man’s character is his destiny, according to the ancient Greeks. Destiny seems to have reserved the destruction of the historically-close relationship between the UK and the rest of Europe for Boris Johnson,” she added.
Guy Verhofstadt, Parliament’s Brexit Steering Group chair, mentioned former UK Prime Minister David Cameron - whose memoirs are being published this week - during his speech, saying, “His little adventure ended with huge divisions in British society. Be sure of one thing: we will never let Brexit divide Europe and the European project.”
He added that Parliament “would never accept that the UK can have all the advantages of free trade, and not align with our environmental, health and social standards.”
“If Brexit happens, they will use it for social dumping, economic dumping and environmental dumping” Scottish National Party MEP Alyn Smith
“We are not stupid. We will not kill our own companies, our economy, or our single market. We will never accept a ‘Singapore by the North Sea’,” he said.
Greens co-leader Philippe Lamberts expressed regret that Boris Johnson and many in the UK parliament have spoken about reneging on the UK’s Brexit bill. “The decision to leave the EU does not free the UK of its legally-binding obligations”, he said.
Echoing both Verhofstadt and Weber, Lamberts added, “The UK Prime Minister’s position seems to be saying to the EU ‘I would like you to open up a 500 kilometres breach in your single market, while at the same time allowing a tax, social and environmental dumping policy’”.
Scottish National Party MEP Alyn Smith described the UK parliament as a “dysfunctional broken Westminster that is not fit for the modern world.”
He accused the UK government of “having absolutely no plan for a durable, sustainable future relationship. If Brexit happens, they will use that for social dumping, economic dumping and environmental dumping.”