German minister says Britain ‘didn’t show enough realism’ over what could be achieved in Brexit talks

Low Angle View of British and European Union Flags Outside Parliament Buildings in London
The UK and the EU have until 31 December to agree on their future relationship (Picture: Getty)

Germany's Europe Minister has said the UK has shown insufficient realism about what can be achieved in Brexit talks.

Michael Roth was speaking before a meeting of the bloc's foreign ministers on Wednesday where he admitted the talks would be a major topic of European Union business from September

Roth, who will act as chair since Germany holds the EU's rotating presidency, said: “There has been a shortage of realism on the British side.”

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen warned the UK last month it needed to obey EU principles in order to achieve a Brexit “future relationship” deal.

German minister of state for Europe Michael Roth arrives for a General Affairs council on article 50 at the European Council in Brussels on July 19, 2018. (Photo by JOHN THYS / AFP)        (Photo credit should read JOHN THYS/AFP via Getty Images)
German minister of state for Europe Michael Roth (Picture: Getty)

Von der Leyen said both sides had to “bridge wide divergences which remain to be solved”.


She added: “The topics are known: level playing field, fisheries, governance, the scope of our police and judicial co-operation.

“These are important points for the EU because these are principles – fair competition, rising social standards, protecting our citizens and the rule of law – at the heart of the EU.”

The SNP’s Ian Blackford said on Wednesday Brexit during the coronavirus pandemic is “self-induced madness” as he demanded an extension to the transition period.

The SNP leader in the House of Commons claimed the risk of a second wave of infections hitting the economy meant refusing to seek an extension would be the “ultimate act of self-harm”.

Last month, Michael Gove “formally confirmed” the UK wouldn’t look to delay the end of the transition period.

Blackford used an opposition day debate about the impact of COVID-19 on Brexit negotiations to insist it would still be possible to legislate for an extension.

He told the Commons on Wednesday: “The EU has expressed its ongoing openness to extending the transition period for negotiations. The UK government now needs to accept that offer.”

Britain continues to participate in many EU structures until the transition period ends on 31 December, by which time a new agreement on ties must be in place if serious commercial and logistic disruption is to be avoided.