German minister dangles ‘special relationship’ bait in front of post-Brexit Britain
German foreign affairs minister Michael Roth told Reuters on Tuesday that although Britain must not drag its feet on initiating an exit, it could be in line for special conditions given its long relationship with Europe.
“Until the end of the year should really be sufficient time to get organized and adjust to the new situation. We should not let too much time go by,” he said.
However, he said Britain’s former influence could lead to a special arrangement with the union going forwards.
“Given Britain’s size, significance and its long membership of the European Union, there will probably be a special status which only bears limited comparison to that of countries that have never belonged to the European Union,” he said.
Although Britain should not expect to have the best of both worlds, he said sensible provisions could be made on issues such as trade – a key point given the delays in staffing for Britain’s new Brexit ministry.
“I want relations between the European Union and Britain to be as close as possible,” he said, but warned there could not be “any cherry-picking.”
Asked if the UK could stay in the single market while dodging the free movement obligation that comes with it, Roth was less positive.
“I can’t imagine that,” he said.
“The free movement of workers is a highly prized right in the European Union and we don’t want to wobble on that.”
Also on Wednesday it was argued in a think tank piece by University of Warwickshire academic Mike Finn that Britain’s lingering self-delusion of itself as the world’s plucky, independent James Bond had obscured the fact it must make alliances to keep up with other nations.