Conservative MEP Ashley Fox has claimed the European Union will “miss” the UK once Brexit is completed. The Tory MEP also warned the European Union about becoming too “protectionist” once Britain leaves. He said: “I am sure they will miss us. I think we have a reputation with being pragmatic.
“We don’t always go along with the European ideal. We try and look at what works.”
He added: “I think, in particular, we have a reputation for being free traders.
“I think one of the dangers for the European Union, after we leave, is that it doesn’t become too protectionist, I think that is a real danger in the years ahead.”
Senior European Union leaders have warned any Brexit extension cannot clash with European elections at the end of May.
But, last week, President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker warned Britain would face organising European elections if Brexit is delayed beyond July.
Speaking in Stuttgart, Germany, Mr Juncker insisted Britain would have to continue respecting the EU treaties if the Prime Minister opted to delay Brexit.
He said: “It’s not the European Commission who decides when the UK is leaving the EU, but the UK alone.
“Theresa May says the UK is leaving on March 29. If the UK were to stay beyond May, as a member of the EU it must organise European elections.
“The treaty is the treaty and this is what it says.”
Leading Brexiteer Nigel Farage has already said he would stand in the European elections if Brexit is delayed.
Speaking on Monday in Egypt, Prime Minister Mrs May insisted Britain’s departure from the EU would not be delayed.
European Council president Donald Tusk revealed that he had discussed the legal and procedural process for extending withdrawal talks under Article 50 with the Prime Minister.
Speaking at a press conference in Sharm el Sheikh, Mrs May said: “An extension to Article 50, a delay in this process, doesn’t deliver a decision in Parliament, it doesn’t deliver a deal.”
She added: “We have it within our grasp. I’ve had a real sense from the meetings I’ve had here and the conversations I’ve had in recent days that we can achieve that deal.”
On Tuesday Government minister Margot James urged Mrs May to rule out the “catastrophe” of a no-deal Brexit by extending Article 50 if she is unable to secure parliamentary support for her deal.
The Creative Industries Minister, along with colleagues Richard Harrington and Claire Perry, signalled their support for an amendment, drawn up by Labour’s Yvette Cooper and Tory Sir Oliver Letwin, which would give the Commons the power to demand a delay to Brexit if an agreement is not in place by March 13.
Ms James told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “All of us were agreed that we couldn’t be part of a government that allowed the country to leave the EU without a deal.
“As D-day approaches, I think we felt honour-bound to actually do something to help prevent such catastrophe.”
Cabinet ministers Amber Rudd, David Gauke and Greg Clark have already said it would be better to extend Article 50 than leave without a deal on March 29.
David Lidington, the effective deputy prime minister, said that delaying Brexit would only postpone the need for MPs to finally agree to a deal.
He told BBC Today programme: ”It ends up, if you are not careful, simply deferring the need to face up to taking decisions. It is not an actual alternative course of action in its own right.”
He added: “I don’t think anybody in the Government has ever shied away from the fact that a no-deal exit would impose considerable costs to the British economy.”