The UK will have to “live with the consequences” of Boris Johnson ditching Theresa May’s plan to maintain close economic ties with the EU after Brexit, Angela Merkel has said, hardening her tone over the prospect of a no-deal scenario at the end of the year.
After more than three years in which the German chancellor repeatedly emphasised her openness to a deal that would maintain the UK’s current flows of trade with the bloc, she suggested the door leading to such a compromise had now closed.
“We need to let go of the idea that it is for us to define what Britain should want,” Merkel said in a wide-ranging interview with a small group of European newspapers, including the Guardian. “That is for Britain to define – and we, the EU27, will respond appropriately.”
Speaking days before Germany takes over the EU rotating presidency, Merkel made clear that her priority was instead to push through a pandemic rescue plan to stop Europe’s economy sliding into the worst slump since the 1930s.