Bettel, Luxembourg’s DP prime minister, was speaking on the sidelines of the European Council summit where EU leaders gave the UK an extension until either 12 April or 22 May to exit the bloc. The British prime minister Theresa May had requested a prolongation to 30 June.
Faisal Islam, political editor at Sky News, asked Bettel on 21 March if the EU’s firm negotiating stance could, in effect, “force the United Kingdom out” of the EU.
I caught up with EU27 Council member currently hearing from the PM at the Summit...rather captures hardline mood of frustration: Xavier Bettel Lux PM:
“You decided to leave - you want us to be the bad guy - we are not in a souk where we are going to bargaining for next 5 yrs”. pic.twitter.com/G1vuBiDhRx
— Faisal Islam (@faisalislam) March 21, 2019
“We don’t force the United Kingdom out, you decided to leave. We shouldn’t exchange roles. You want us to be the bad guy. You decided, you decided, you decided! We had just to find a deal. And we negotiated a deal. We found the best possible deal. And we are not on the souk where we are going to bargain for the next five years.”
The following day, 22 March, Bettel was asked by reporters “what are your odds” on the Brexit deal passing the UK House of Commons. Bettel replied: “50-50”.
— Greg Heffer (@GregHeffer) March 22, 2019
He was then asked, “are you worried by that?” Bettel answered:
“No, but I can’t change it, you know. I regret your referendum, I regret the outcome of the referendum, and I regret the divorce. So I hope a deal will be there. So I would even love 51-49, and 51 remain with us. Even better for 51 to get a deal”.