BRITAIN has been handed a stark warning not to try and call the bluff of the European Union (EU) during Brexit negotiations.
Dublin MEP Brian Hayes said Britain should not be punished for leaving the EU, but will get burnt if negotiators don’t pay Brussels some respect.
While the UK deserves a good Brexit deal, he said, it would be in danger if the country goes into negotiations without a degree of humility.
Mr Hayes said: “If they try to play chicken with the European Union in these negotiations they will end up as roadkill. Greece tried to do this during their bailout talks and they learned their lesson the hard way.
“While the UK does have some cards to play, the EU clearly holds the upper hand in these talks. It is the EU that holds the keys to a transitional deal, single market access, customs union, equivalence and any sort of bespoke deal that the UK wants.”
“If the UK wants to play brinkmanship, they will be facing a very stern opponent.”
But the MEP also said the Republic of Ireland should resist the urge to attempt to exploit uncertainty in Britain for their own good.
Ireland has been carrying out a charm offensive in the UK in an attempt to convince financial sector leaders to swap London for Dublin.
Mr Hayes said: “It is in the DNA of Irish nationalism to see Britain’s difficulties as Ireland’s opportunities. There are some who cannot avoid the temptation for a little Brit bashing.
“Amidst all this uncertainty, it’s the task of mainstream politicians and mainstream parties to calm things down.”
Mr Hayes added: “The UK must never be regarded as some third country in its new relationship with the EU. It’s not like Brazil or Mexico, its importance to the financing and the economy of Europe must be recognised.
“We have to find a solution that works for the EU and the UK.”
He urged for calm on both sides of the divide, appealing for an end to nationalism – no matter the country involved.
Mr Hayes said: “The great success of the EU has been to keep a lid on the ever present nationalism that has caused such chaos in the first half of the last century.
“The drumbeat of nationalism is once again being heard across the continent.
“The dangers of an awoken nationalism on these islands – be it English, Scottish or Irish nationalism – make the task of business stability and business confidence more difficult. Trade does not grow when countries are putting up barriers.”