A leading German politician today revealed that the EU’s support for Spain over on Gibraltar is effectively a punishment in retaliation for Britain leaving the bloc.
Manfred Weber said the inclusion of the Rock as a bargaining chip in the upcoming negotiations was the “outcome when you leave this family”.
The influential euro MP, who is the leader of the EU parliament’s biggest grouping, said that Brexit meant the UK was now “alone” and that Brussels did not care about its interests.
He made the incendiary remarks during a combative press conference in Strasbourg, where representatives are gathering to vote on their priorities for the divorce talks.
Mr Weber set out seven “red lines” his EPP grouping will pursue in the talks, which include Britain paying any Brexit bill in full whilst stepping back from the EU decision making process.
But it was his comments on Gibraltar which will spark the most consternation in Westminster, coming amid a growing row with Spain over the future status of the Rock.
He said: “I was frankly speaking surprised when London said during the last days that the EU is supporting the Spanish interest in the Gibraltar case.
“Sorry, I can send the message again to the British friends. From now on we will have the interests of the EU27 in mind and not anymore of the British side in mind.
“So we have the interests of Spain in mind and not anymore the British interests in mind. That is the outcome of the idea to leave the European Union, so you should not complain that we take only the Spanish interests in mind from now on.
“That is the outcome when you leave this family. My feeling is that some of the politicians in London have still not understood what leaving the European Union means in the end.”
Mr Weber rammed home his point, repeating: “ That means to be alone. That means to be alone.”
During a fiery press conference the conservative chief laid down the gauntlet to London over Brexit, setting out seven key areas on which he says his party will not compromise.
The first, he insisted, was that the EU is “not for sale” and that the British should make no attempts to attempt a divide and conquer approach during the negotiations.
He said: “We will never allow a division of our citizens into first and second class citizens. Citizenship is not a thing that we can play…that they can use in some kind of a power game.”
Next, Mr Weber said that the EU parliament would firmly stand behind the Northern Ireland peace process and would not allow any deal that could endanger it.
He then moved on to rail against Theresa May’s suggestion that the UK could cut corporation tax if it is offered a bad deal by Brussels, saying he will not “accept any kind of Singapore model”.
The EPP’s fourth red line is that the euro clearing business is “physically” moved from the City of London to a European centre, stating that “the euro business should be managed on EU soil”.
Fifth, Mr Weber insisted that the UK Government must agree to pay any bill it is presented with by Brussels in full before the negotiations proper can start.
He said: “The EU citizens will not pay the bill for the British, so an agreement with the UK can only be reached if the UK recognises its financial liabilities.”
Next, and controversially, he said that the UK Government and its MEPs must effectively abdicate from the decision making process and not vote on issues affecting the future of the other 27 countries.
Finally, Mr Weber said that any attempt by the British to start parallel talks on the divorce and trade, rather than respecting the framework set by Michel Barnier, would be a deal breaker.