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Brexit could leave UK with 'old furniture', academic warns

Published 16/08/2016

Prime Minister Theresa May got a friendly reception from German Chancellor Angela Merkel
Prime Minister Theresa May got a friendly reception from German Chancellor Angela Merkel

The UK could be "left with the old furniture" following negotiations to leave the European Union (EU), an academic has warned.

Political scientist Matthew Qvortrup, who has published a new book on Angela Merkel, suggested Theresa May should not read too much into her friendly reception from the German leader.

He told an audience at the Edinburgh International Book Festival that the Prime Minister was likely to meet with the same attitude in Brexit negotiations as her predecessor David Cameron before the referendum.

Referring to the meeting between the two women in Berlin last month, Mr Qvortrup said: "One of the things that the press noted when they met up was how wonderfully they were getting on and I think one of the things one should always be careful about with Angela Merkel is that she's always incredibly nice.

"Angela Merkel might not be quite so happy when the divorce actually comes.

"I think politically we might in this country, or maybe the country south of the border, end up being the ones that are left with the old furniture, whilst Angela Merkel takes the high technology washing machine.

"I think what she is going to do is she is going to have a negotiation with her new not best friend Theresa May and that's going to be very friendly and very cordial and in the end she will be quite firm and say, well these are the conditions, you may not like them, but there is nothing else on offer.

"I think the way that she is going to use her power is to streamline the European Union, maybe get rid of the ones that are a little bit awkward and then have a stronger but smaller operation.

"But at the end of the day she is a German politician who is elected in Germany and her main interest is that Germany becomes a stronger country, economically strong, and if that happens then the countries that are willing to trade with Germany on Germany's terms will probably do well.

"Whether Britain is going to be one of those countries, we will find out."

Mr Qvortrup, professor of political science at Coventry University, added: "David Cameron was basically met with the 'you can't cherry-pick so sorry, I like you a lot, we can have holidays and all the rest of it but politically, no. F riendliness is friendliness but it's just not politics."

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