MARK Rutte sparked a diplomatic row with Britain yesterday by saying it will become a “middling” economy with little global relevance after Brexit.
In a brutal attack the Dutch PM said the UK was “on the wane” thanks to its decision to leave the EU and is “too small” to influence the world stage.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte blasted the UK, saying it would be a ‘middling’ economy after Brexit[/caption]
Mr Rutte also revealed that “every businessman” he speaks to from Britain is cutting investment in the country, with the Netherlands a major beneficiary.
He told El Pais: “It is the UK that Brexit will leave weakened.
“It’s already weakening, it is a country on the wane compared to two or three years ago.
“It’s going to become a middle sized economy stuck out in the Atlantic Ocean. It’s too small to appear on the world stage on its own.”
But Theresa May hit back at the remarks, with her spokesman pointing to Britain’s continued status as the premier place in Europe to do business.
He said: “I disagree entirely. Employment is at a record high, exports are at a record high, companies are continuing to invest in the UK.
“Deloitte named the UK as Europe’s leading destination for foreign direct investment and London as the world’s top city for investment just last month.”
Mr Rutte, who is widely seen as one of the UK’s allies in the Brexit talks, also warned both sides may be hurtling towards a no deal scenario.
He said: “The ball is rolling towards the Dover cliff and we are shouting ‘stop the ball from rolling any further’. But nobody is doing anything at the moment, at least not on the UK side.
“Given May’s efforts to renegotiate the Irish insurance policy, I don’t know how this will end and if we will be able to avoid a hard Brexit.”
Deloitte named London as the world’s top city for investment last month[/caption]
Rutte quipped that Britain had dropped the ball and it was rolling towards the Dover cliffs[/caption]
The Dutch PM also said British MPs are wrong to believe the EU is trying to “trap them in a permanent limbo” with the backstop.
He vowed: “The EU is interested in moving to the next phase as soon as possible and starting a new relationship with the UK.”
Yesterday it emerged European manufacturers are urging Brussels to either opt for a long extension of Article 50 or a no deal Brexit in March.
Big car makers have warned eurocrats that a short extension of three months will wreak havoc with their long-term plans for trade after the UK has left.
The Sun understands UK negotiators have indicated they will accept surgical tweaks to the Withdrawal Agreement rather than a full reopening of it.
According to sources, Brexit secretary Steve Barclay told Michel Barnier on Monday night the Government is focussed on the ends rather than the means.
But he stressed changes outlining the temporary nature of the backstop must be legally binding to satisfy Attorney General Geoffrey Cox and the DUP.
Mr Barclay also told the Frenchman the Government is reaching out to Labour MPs in Leave seats, having given up on some of its own backbenchers.
But EU sources were dismayed he was unable to say what new wording the UK wants on the backstop or what is needed to get the deal through the Commons.
The remarks are likely to anger hardline eurosceptic MPs who have said that small changes to the Withdrawal Agreement won’t cut the mustard.
The Dutch PM also belittled Theresa May’s efforts at negotiating a backstop agreement over the Irish border[/caption]
Major car manufacturers are said to be urging Brussels to agree a long extension to Article 50 or say ‘no deal’ in March[/caption]
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Jeremy Corbyn will meet with senior eurocrats next Thursday to push his idea for a customs union with the EU.
The Labour leader will hold talks with Mr Barnier and MEPs’ Brexit chief Guy Verhofstadt to update them on the progress of cross-party talks.
Eurocrats have privately mocked Mr Corbyn’s idea the UK could join a customs union with the bloc and still get a full say on the trade deals it signs.
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