'I hate a hard-deal Brexit', says Dutch PM and adds Britain will be 'diminished' after leaving EU

David Harding
Contributor
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte (REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw)

The Dutch Prime Minister has said he hates the idea of a “no-deal” Brexit and says it will have a huge impact on Britain.

Mark Rutte said Britain leaving the European Union without an agreement would “diminish” the UK.

His comments to the BBC came on the same day as the Bank of England warned that the prospects of a no-deal had risen, amid the continuing process to elect a new British PM.

Mark Rutte said the next prime minister needs to realise a no-deal Brexit would be bad for the UK, telling the Today programme: “With a hard Brexit, even with a normal Brexit, the UK will be a different country.

“It will be a diminished country. It is unavoidable.”

He added: “I hate Brexit from every angle, I hate no-deal Brexit from every angle.”

Rutte also said Britain outside the EU would not be “big enough” to play a role on the world stage.

Mr Rutte made clear that there could not be a transition period if a withdrawal agreement was not in place, telling the BBC: “As Boris Johnson would say, Brexit is Brexit.

Out by Oct 31. Boris Johnson would leave the EU by that date under his leadership (REUTERS/Peter Nicholls)

“I would say a hard Brexit is a hard Brexit. I don’t see how you can sweeten it.”

He also added there was no chance of renegotiating the Withdrawal Agreement by Autumn.

And for good measure, the Dutch leader cautioned against implementing a time limit on the Irish backstop - as some Tory leadership candidates have proposed.

"That would mean a hard border, and that would mean an end to the Good Friday Agreement and back to the Troubles," he said.

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HIs interview came as the Conservatives looked to finalise the two candidates in the leadership election who will contest the final stage of the battle to become the next British leader.

Boris Johnson, the front-runner, has said Britain will leave the EU by October 31 if he is the next Prime Minister, even if that means a no-deal.

One of his Cabinet supporters, Liz Truss, also told the BBC that is Johnson was elected prime minister “he will leave by 31st October no ifs, no buts”.

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