A senior German ally of Angela Merkel has warned that Theresa May’s current approach to Brexit “will not fly” – pouring cold water over eurosceptics’ hopes that the Chancellor will cut Britain a favourable deal.
Manfred Weber, the leader of the centre-right European People’s Party, the largest group in the European Parliament, accused the UK of “cherry picking” and repeated concerns that Britain had not grasped the disadvantages of leaving the bloc.
“It seems to be that Great Britain is still thinking that it can follow the full cherry-picking approach,” Mr Weber, who is domestically a member of Ms Merkel’s CDU/CSU party, told reporters in Strasbourg.
“That will not work – you have to decide whether you want to have the advantages of the European Union or you have to leave the European Union.
“For me it look like all the documents are defining what is in the interests of Great Britain and hat is what Great Britain wants to sustain, wants to keep – and the rest is not acceptable. That will not fly.”
Eurosceptics have been holding out hope that Ms Merkel will intervene in Brexit negotiations following the German elections later this month and make concessions to the UK.
Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage said on his LBC radio show earlier this month that the Chancellor was “a pragmatist, and probably the most positive leader in the European Union towards finding a sensible solution”.
He added that “if there is any hope of saving Brexit talks, it lies with her”.
But Mr Weber effectively repeated the criticisms of the UK position made by chief negotiator Michel Barnier, who he said he and the entire European Parliament backed fully.
Mr Barnier said at the end of the most recent round of EU talks that Britain wanted an “impossible” Brexit deal and did not understand the consequences of leaving the single market. He also warned that the UK needed to choose between the advantages of being close to the EU in a Norway-style deal and “taking back control” outside.
Ms Merkel is currently on course to be returned as Chancellor in the German federal elections to be held on 24 September.