Chancellor Philip Hammond has said that European leaders are “backward-looking” and focused on punishing Britain rather the future of a new EU-UK trading relationship would be.
Mr Hammond spoke to German newspaper Die Welt during a three-day visit aimed at whipping up German support for a future trade deal.
“We hear a willingness and enthusiasm in the USA and from many other countries around the world to make new trade deals with us,” Mr Hammond said. “But we don’t hear that from Europe. We hear from Europe only backward-looking stuff. ‘Are you sure you want to leave?’ Or, ‘it’s a bad decision to leave.’ Or, ‘you must be punished for deciding to leave.’”
He said it was “paranoia” for EU leaders to think that offering the UK too ‘soft’ a Brexit would incentivise other countries to leave.
“I can understand that paranoia. But imagine you are running a successful, thriving club. If one member leaves, you don’t immediately panic that all the other members might leave, but are confident they will want to remain.”
The Chancellor was accompanied in Germany by Brexit Secretary David Davis, although the Guardian claims the pair were ignored by top politicians and rebuffed by business leaders.
Mr Hammond also told Die Welt: “It’s a courtship. We have to show a little of what we’re thinking and then we find out a little about what our partners in Europe are thinking.” To which his interviewer replied: “To us, that sounds more like a poker game where one tries to pull a fast one on the other.”