Brexit news: Merkel and Macron prepare to boot UK out on October 31 | UK | News

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Angela Merkel’s continental advisor said the EU will not be “blackmailed” after Tory leadership frontrunner Boris Johnson said he would use the financial settlement as leverage to secure better divorce terms. Emmanuel Macron’s European affairs minister also offered the thinly veiled threat as attitudes towards Brexit on the Continent hardened. Michael Roth, Germany’s Europe minister, said: “The EU and its member states cannot be blackmailed.

“I see no willingness to restart negotiations from the beginning.

“The candidates would do well to bear that in mind in the course of their internal party campaigns.”

French Europe minister Amelie de Montchalin insisted Britain have no option but to hand over the cash because the country “will always be France’s neighbour” and that a no-deal divorce is a “realistic option”.

She said: “It’s not a settling of scores, or some kind of exit bill – this sum simply represents Britain’s engagements.

“So this is now a matter of respecting international law… Britain will always be France’s neighbour.”

As part of the EU’s hardline approach to opening new Brexit talks with the next British prime minister, Ms de Montchalin confirmed the bloc is not prepared to reopen Theresa May’s hated divorce deal without the guarantee of a second referendum or general election first.

The French Europe minister insisted Mrs May’s deal is the only way to secure an “orderly” exit from the bloc.

Ms de Montchalin said: “If Britain does want to leave, and if it wants to leave in an orderly fashion, then this is the way it must do it.”

She said France would only offer Britain another Brexit delay beyond October if there is “profound change” to the new prime minister’s EU strategy.

As President Macron has said, if there is a totally new political line in Britain, the Europeans would be prepared to reconsider,” she said.

“But for now, October 31 is the final deadline.”

Despite France not wanting a no-deal Brexit, she insisted: “we are prepared for it, and so it is now a realistic option.”

She added: “We are now waiting for clarification from the UK side.

“We consider it up to Britain to decide how it wants to proceed. The exit agreement was not negotiated against the British; negotiators on both sides tried, painstakingly, to find the best salutation for all concerned.”

The European Commission also warned that Mrs May’s 585-page Brexit deal, which she agreed with EU27 leaders last November, will be off-limits to her successor.

A spokesman for the Brussels-based executive said: “The election of a new prime minister will of course not change the parameters of what is on the table.”

They added that Brussels continues on its “Brexit break” and would also “refrain from any positions or opinions that would risk interfering with the ongoing leadership contest in the Conservative party.”

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the Tory leadership battle is only benefiting her independence crusade.

Speaking after meeting EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, she called the contest a “horror show” and said most candidates’ divorce plans have no “basis in reality”.

She said: “Brexit increasingly demonstrates why Scotland does need an ability to chart a different course for our future.

“While the opportunity to avert Brexit may have increased, so too has the possibility of a no deal Brexit.”



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