Britain will never get a better trade deal with the EU than the one it has as a member state, a German MEP has declared.
Theresa Reintke said Britain’s trading relationship with Europe would never be the same once it left “the table in Brussels”.
Reintke, an MEP for the Greens–European Free Alliance, told the EU parliament: “No matter what is going to be in the deal that might or will hopefully shape the EU-UK relations in the future, one thing is absolutely clear.
“The best deal the UK could get, and it would stay that way, was to be part of the European Union, to sit here around the table in Brussels and take decisions together and no matter what is going to happen in the next days, weeks, months, years ahead, we must always remember: Our interdependence will always be stronger than Brexit.
“Our ties will always be stronger than Brexit and our friendship will always be stronger than Brexit.”
Reintke was the second MEP to speak out on Friday. Guy Verhofstadt, the former prime minister of Belgium turned EU politician, said it was only a matter of time until Britain returned “back inside the European family”.
In a passionate plea to extend Erasmus to British students after Brexit, Verhofstadt said: “Let’s take a unilateral measure towards the students in Britain that they can continue unilaterally, to make use of Erasmus.
“It’s a pro-European generation, this young generation, and it’s this generation who will bring back the UK inside the European family in the next decades.”
The comments come as chief EU negotiator Michel Barner warned there were “just a few hours left” to strike a post-Brexit trade deal.
Barnier told the European parliament that Britain and the European Union now stood at the “moment of truth” with a “very narrow” path to securing a breakthrough as talks resumed in Brussels.
“We have very little time remaining, just a few hours, to work through these negotiations in useful fashion if we want this agreement to enter into force on January 1,” he said.
“There is a chance of getting an agreement but the path to such an agreement is very narrow.”
No 10 has warned the prospect of agreeing a trade deal with the EU wass “looking difficult”.
The prime minister said on Friday the onus is on the bloc seeing “sense” and making a compromise or the transition period will end on December 31 without a deal, which he acknowledged would be “difficult” in the short-term.
Johnson reiterated “no sensible government” could agree to a treaty that does not give the nation control of its laws and waters, two major sticking points for No 10 in the negotiations as the brinkmanship continued.
Speaking during a visit to Greater Manchester, the PM said: “Our door is open, we’ll keep talking, but I have to say things are looking difficult.
“There’s a gap that needs to be bridged, the UK has done a lot to try and help and we hope that our EU friends will see sense and come to the table with something themselves, because that’s really where we are.”