European leaders are taking a tough stance on the UK following the country’s decision to withdraw its membership from the European Union. Since the Brexit, a political fallout has followed the economic downturn. Political discourse in Europe has centered around the Brexit, especially on the upcoming negotiations that both regions have to engage. The primary concern, which investors have, about the Brexit is Britain’s position as a global financial center and the possible loss of privileges in the European market. It now appears that British politicians will have their work cut out for them in the upcoming negotiations.
Theresa May is expected to become the next Prime Minister of the UK. It is very likely that she will be selected for her negotiations skills, which she refined while serving as Home Secretary. May is no stranger to negotiations, especially with her European counterparts. She has a long history of debate with Brussel bureaucrats. European officials themselves believe as much, and many have stated that May is quite straightforward and skilled at negotiation, especially when it concerns issues facing the UK. Jan Jambon, the Interior Minister of Belgium, said that the incoming Prime Minister is known for her breadth of knowledge and willingness to cooperate.
However, May might be entering her toughest negotiations yet. The structure of the European Union gives power to both France and especially Germany. These two countries, which represent the two largest economies in the EU, have both come out with tough stances on Britain’s decision to leave the EU. Germany and France both have elections coming up next year. Combine this with the relative weakness in the EU and both countries may be unwilling to give in too much to British demands for fear of losing power and support for the EU. Although the Brexit has not necessarily increased nationalistic and anti-EU sentiment across Europe, the fear is still there.
Angela Merkel, the fierce and popular Chancellor of Germany, will likely go head-to-head with Theresa May in the upcoming negotiations. Both women are known for their toughness and straightforward attitudes, and both women are the daughters of Protestant clerics. Commentators in Germany have noted the tenacity of both leaders and stated they believe negotiations will be fluid and cordial between the two. At the same time, German officials have said that despite May’s desire for the best possible outcome for Britain, it must be known that there is a fundamental difference between being part of the EU and not being part of it.
Britain’s incoming Prime Minister also has a healthy relationship in France. May is close to and well respected by Bernard Cazeneuve, the interior minister of France. However, current French President Francois Hollande has taken a particularly stubborn position against the British. Hollande believes very much in the EU and will likely attempt to punish Britain for its decision to dissuade other nations from following suit. However, Hollande is currently suffering from wide spread dissatisfaction within France, which May help give May an edge in the upcoming negotiations.