EU outrage: Slovakia pledged ‘Brexit will be very painful’ for UK | United Kingdom | New
Brexit continues to engender tensions between the UK and the EU as Minister David Frost warns the Northern Ireland Protocol is not sustainable in its current form. UK and EU officials are engaged in intensive technical discussions aimed at simplifying the operation of the protocol. This has been an extremely controversial issue since the start of the Brexit process. A bad feeling has also been observed around fishing in recent months, as France clashes with Jersey over access to the waters.
Hostility began in 2016, however, shortly after the UK voted to leave the EU in the historic referendum.
In September of the same year, then Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said Europe would ensure that leaving the EU was “very painful” for the UK.
He added that Britain would not be allowed to make EU workers “second class citizens” while enjoying the benefits of the single market.
Mr Fico told the Financial Times: “It will be very difficult for the UK, very difficult.
“The EU will take this opportunity to show the public: ‘Listen guys, now you are going to see why it is important to stay in the EU’. That will be the position.”
Mr Fico stressed that he had personal “respect” for then Prime Minister Theresa May, but said he did not envy his dilemma.
He added, “How about if you were in their shoes? Even though it is the fifth largest economy in the world – I understand their financial importance – it will still be very painful for the UK.
“They’re bluffing. If you were in their shoes, you’d say the same thing. ‘Everything will be fine, it will be fantastic, you’ll see.’
“No no no no.”
READ MORE: EU pressured Switzerland to send message to UK
Mr Fico was not the only figure in Europe to take a tough stance on Brexit.
Former Swedish Foreign Minister and former Vice President of the European Commission – Margot Wallström – said in June 2019 that she could ‘never forgive’ the UK for Brexit.
She said the UK’s approach to the issue was’ dangerous’ and ‘mismanaged’, adding: ‘I just think they made a historic mistake and really created a problem for all of us.
“I cannot forgive them for this.
“Our political project, the European Union, will suffer greatly and this must be fully understood.”
Ms Wallstrom, a social democrat, accused the UK of taking its position in the bloc for granted and questioned the decision to even hold a referendum on EU membership.
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She continued, “You know what? It is because of bad political leadership for a very long time in the UK. I have seen during all my years in the European Commission that there was no one who would defend their membership in the EU.
“You shouldn’t promise referendums if you don’t prepare them properly.”
In 2017, French lawmakers also denounced Brexit, with a report suggesting the UK should not have privileged access to EU markets.
The French Senate vowed that the UK should not be allowed to leave the EU in an easier position than it was as a member state, and if necessary a no-deal withdrawal should be considered.
He also called Ms. May’s speech “a mixture of veiled threats and signs of goodwill.”
The report admitted that the UK economy weathered the Brexit storm early on, but said weaknesses would be exposed.
French lawmakers have said rising household debt, the weakening commercial property market, the current account deficit and the devaluation of the British pound could have an impact on the UK.