Published On: Mon, Oct 14th, 2019

Brexit news: Merkel fears successful UK will be ‘competitor’ like US after Brexit | UK | News

The German Chancellor said the UK could join China and the USA on a list of the bloc’s main trade rivals in the coming years. During a joint press conference with France’s Emmanuel Macron in Paris, she warned the UK would become a “potential competitor” with the EU in the global marketplace “along with China and the United States”. “Europe needs to show what it is made of,” she added ahead of a dinner with the French President last night.

Mrs Merkel’s warning comes after EU capitals were told by Michel Barnier that it would be “very difficult” to strike a Brexit deal with Britain ahead of Thursday’s European Council summit.

Until now, the German leader has treated Britain as a friendly neighbour and expected to maintain close trading ties after Brexit.

But a recent telephone spat between her and Boris Johnson flared tempers between Berlin and London as divorce talks reach a critical stage.

The Brussels negotiator told senior EU diplomats last that Mr Johnson would have to offer more concessions if he wants an agreement by the end of the week.

He is understood to have told David Frost, Britain’s chief negotiator, that the EU is prepared to support a new plan in principle even if a legal text could not be finalised in time for the summit – provided the Prime Minister gave more ground on customs arrangements for Northern Ireland.

Brussels is concerned with the complexity of the offer tabled by Mr Frost during a round of intense weekend negotiations.

Under the plan, goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain would be charged differing trade tariffs depending on whether they entered the Irish republic.

Mr Barnier warned diplomats that the proposals were “untested” and created risks for the single market.

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But Brussels sources have played down chances of a deal ahead of this week’s European leaders summit.

Simon Coveney, Ireland’s deputy prime minister, this morning said there is still time to strike a deal ahead of October 31.

He told reporters in Luxembourg: “I think on Brexit the less we say the better. We need to give time and space to Michel Barnier and his task force and the British negotiating team.

“I think it’s pretty clear what we’re trying to do but there are pretty detailed technical discussions now and we need to give the time and space for that to happen. Hopefully make progress today on those.

“The message I would give, we need to be cautious.”

“A deal is possible and it’s possible this month… it may even be possible this week,” he added.

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