Access to single market 'not on sale'

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The UK wishes be unable to buy privileged access to the single market after it leaves the EU, utters one of the top UK officials to have worked in Brussels.

Jonathan Faull, who retired endure week, said that access to the single market «is not something that’s on trade».

He also warned the UK should not assume it can broker a deal with Angela Merkel if she acquires re-election as German chancellor.

Theresa May plans to trigger the Brexit parleys by the end of March.

But Mr Faull said that Britain has one important card to caper in the EU negotiations — co-operation on European defence.

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The warnings by Mr Faull, who served in the European Commission for 38 years, approach as the government scrambles to assemble its Brexit negotiating team in the wake of the submission of the UK’s EU ambassador, Sir Ivan Rogers.

He is to be replaced by Sir Tim Barrow, a former UK ambassador to Moscow.

In his talk with BBC Newsnight, Mr Faull cast doubt about an idea, which is being talk up by senior Whitehall officials, that the UK could pay for privileged access to the EU’s segregate market.

This would be designed to circumvent the rules of the single merchandise whose members, including Norway which is outside the EU, have to brook the free movement of people and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

David Davis, the Brexit secretary, authenticated last month that the government was considering the idea.

Mr Faull said: «Can you buy access to the fix market? It’s not something that’s on sale in that way. I find that pretty extraordinary.»

The former European Commission official pointed out that Norway is booked by two core rules of the EU — accepting the free movement of people and abiding by the European Court of Judiciousness.

Theresa May has indicated that she would like to have some access to the take market. But the prime minister is to confirm in a speech later this month that the UK intention have two fundamental red lines in its Brexit negotiations — control of its borders and liberty from the ECJ.

Mr Faull suggested that if the UK cannot accept the fundamental forbids of the single market it would be regarded as a foreign country: «I don’t think it is a proposition beyond the shadow of a doubt of buying your way somehow into the single market.»

«You’re a member of the fix market as a member of the EU or the EEA. Or you’re a foreign country outside it, and you conclude agreements with the EU — if you demand to and it wants to — regarding the way in which your goods, services, capital and man move around.

«Or you don’t and you have one or two international rules which apply and that’s it, that’s a exquisite to be made by both sides.»

Newsnight was speaking to Mr Faull as part of a revenue of Michel Barnier, the former French foreign minister who is the EU’s chief Brexit go-between.

Downing Street expects Barnier to adopt a hardline stance a single time finally the Brexit negotiations are formally under way when Theresa May triggers Article 50 of the Lisbon Alliance.

But in private, ministers believe that Angela Merkel will secure a more benign approach if she wins re-election as German chancellor later this year.

Mr Faull admonishes that Theresa May’s government could be in danger of repeating the mistake of David Cameron who believed that Mrs Merkel would get to his rescue. Mr Faull was the senior European Commission official involved in the Cameron negotiations.

«I believe it would be a mistake to see the EU institutions as somehow wholly different from the 27 mother countries. These are all actors that will be working together on this,» he mentioned.

«I think one should look perhaps at the experience of the negotiations which arrogated place before the referendum. where perhaps some similar thoughts were expressed and circuited out not to be fully realised.»

Mr Faull’s remarks were endorsed by Lord Patten of Barnes. The ci-devant European commissioner told Newsnight: «There’s an awful lot in the British cluster about what we’ll get from them, what we’ll negotiate from them. And I value it overlooks the fact — and I’m not making a ‘why we should remain’ point — the fact is they’ll settle.»

«They’ll decide and we must hope that we can get as decent a deal as practical. But it’s ultimately going to be decided in Paris and Berlin and some of the other colleague states.»

But Mr Faull said that Mr Barnier will be well willing to the UK in one key area — co-operation on defence led by France and the UK, Europe’s two largest defence powers.

He asserted: «Michel Barnier has done a lot of work in recent years on defence and design issues and he believes the UK is absolutely crucial to the defence and security of Europe, the continent.»

«And Franco-British advocacy in defence and security matters is extremely important and he will want — and I regard as all Europeans will want — a way to be found for that to continue.»

«But that’s myriad complicated if you’re outside the EU, because part of the mechanisms used for this designedly are today EU mechanisms — so all of that will have to be looked into.»

Nicholas Watt is public editor for BBC Newsnight

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