Holding their first formal meeting since Thursday’s Brexit vote, European Union leaders were talking extremely tough on the process of “divorce” with Britain, with many appearing to want to make an example of the Brits to discourage the rest of the union from seeking to leave.
“Marriage or divorce, but nothing in between,” insisted Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel insisted British talk of a cushy deal to retain access to the European common market was “wishful thinking.”
“Those who want free access to the European domestic market will have to accept the basic European freedoms and other rules and duties,” Merkel insisted. Other officials said they saw a possibility of Britain negotiating a deal similar to the one Norway has, but not the “Norway-plus” deal British Conservatives are talking about.
Norway has access to the European market, but has to accept most EU regulations, and also provide for free movement of labor with EU citizens, likely a no-go negotiation with the British, since much of the Brexit vote centered on ending the EU citizens, mostly Poles, flocking to Britain to work.
British officials appear hopeful they could get more than Norway did, since their banking industry is so important to the continent. Whether that ultimately wins out over the EU desire to spite the Brits for wanting out remains to be seen.
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