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11/19/16

Britain: Brexit: They can't have their cake and eat it too: Europe’s leaders must force Britain into hard Brexit

European leaders have come to a 27-nation consensus that a “hard Brexit” is likely to be the only way to see off future populist insurgencies, which could lead to the break-up of the European Union.

The hardening line in EU capitals comes as Nigel Farage warns European leaders that Marine Le Pen, leader of the Front National, could deliver a political sensation bigger than Brexit and win France’s presidential election next spring – a result that would mean it was “game over” for 60 years of EU integration.

According to senior officials at the highest levels of European governments, allowing Britain favourable terms of exit could represent an existential danger to the EU, since it would encourage similar demands from other countries with significant Eurosceptic movements.

One top EU diplomat told the Observer: “If you British are not prepared to compromise on free movement, the only way to deal with Brexit is hard Brexit. Otherwise we would be seen to be giving in to a country that is leaving. That would be fatal.”

The latest intervention by Farage will only serve to fuel fears in Europe that anti-EU movements have acquired a dangerous momentum in countries such as France and the Netherlands, following the precedent set by the Brexit vote. Ukip’s interim leader, who predicted both the vote for Brexit and Donald Trump’s US victory, told the Observer that while Le Pen was still more likely to be runner-up to an establishment candidate next May, she now had to be taken seriously as a potential head of state.

“She will clearly win through to the second round. And after what has happened elsewhere, only a fool would say she would have no chance of winning overall. France is a deeply, deeply unhappy country. If she were to win, it would be game over for the EU.”

Le Pen has made clear she wants to take France out of the euro and the EU. The prospective hardline approach has been agreed by the 27 member states as a bloc. Acting in concert, the remaining EU states will refuse to grant the UK access to the single market unless London agrees to sign up to its rules, including free movement of people, capital, services and labour.

Norbert Röttgen, chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the German Bundestag, told the Observer that he wanted to help the UK but, if there were no willingness to accept EU rules, there was no hope. “I am really ready to come to a result but if [the British position is] no, no, no, then even I would have to say that there is no common ground.”

Note EU-Digest: If the EU Commission does not play hard ball with Britain it will be game over for the EU. No concessions at all. Britain can't have it's cake and eat it too. 

Read more: Europe’s leaders to force Britain into hard Brexit | Politics | The Guardian

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