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Austria: 'Great Britain will probably be Little Britain'

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Austria: 'Great Britain will probably be Little Britain'
Photo: OeVP/Jakob Glaser
09:18 CEST+02:00
As the international reaction to the UK's vote to leave the European Union on June 23rd continues to unfold, Austria's finance minister called on Monday for British parliamentarians not to allow Brexit to happen.

“If you look at other countries, you can change these decisions by parliament. And I hope the wisdom of the parliamentarians will give a new guidance for leaving, and not to make a Brexit,” conservative Finance Minister Hans Jörg Schelling (ÖVP) told reporters before a meeting of European finance ministers in Brussels.

Schelling, who previously said that he thought the whole of Britain would stay in, recently told German newspaper Handelsblatt he can now imagine a situation whereby Scotland and Northern Ireland remain in the EU.

”Scotland, Northern Ireland are not going; they are likely to remain in the Union and Great Britain will probably become Little Britain,” he said.

‘No special privileges'

Austrian MEP and vice-president of European Parliament Ulrike Lunacek has said the UK can expect no special privileges while negotiating their exit from the EU in an unusually hardline stance from a Green politician.

Speaking to FM4, Lunacek said that she wants the UK to invoke Article 50, which would trigger the exit negotiations with the EU, as soon as possible.

“If it's only done at the beginning of next year, we'll have the end of those two years right at the beginning of the European election campaign,” she said. “What do you want to tell citizens if we don't finalise that before, if there's no clarity? Will the UK elect MEPS or not?”

She added that the UK cannot expect to have access to the markets without freedom of movement, saying that it “simply won't work”.

"It can only be something that already exists like the European economic area - also having to pay but no way of influencing the decision making," she said.

"I defend a rather strict version because we cannot start for years negotiating maybe you get that and another member state decides well maybe we do that as well, and then we want to have something else."

"We have so many other crises we're facing at the moment. We need to convince citizens again that the European Union is there for them not the other way around. I do not see that any special privileges can be given to the UK because of their decision."

The Green MEP, who has been vice-president of the European Parliament since 2014, has also previously told The Local that there should be no “deals done between member states behind closed doors”.

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