Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has said that the UK is a “waning country” compared to a couple of years ago and said that it is “too small” to fare on it’s own, in a scathing attack.
Rutte was speaking to Spanish newspaper El Pais and the Financial Times about Britain, which he described as a “diminished” country following the EU referendum, and how the UK faces “insurmountable” problems due to Brexit.
He also said that hundreds of companies were planning to relocate to Europe following the UK exiting the EU in March. It is claimed that 250 UK-based firms are in talks to relocate to the Netherlands in order to retain access to the single market.
“Every businessman I speak to from the UK is saying they will cut investments, cut their business in the UK. It will have an insurmountable impact on the UK.
“We can’t stop them from coming here.
“It is going to become an economy of intermediate size in a place in the Atlantic Ocean. It is neither the US nor the EU. It is too small to appear on the world stage on its own.”
Sony and Panasonic are among high-profile names to have cited Brexit in their relocation, but the trade and investment arm of the Dutch government, the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency, has been actively soliciting more firms and says hundreds more are on the verge of moving.
Rutte also said Britain’s allies on the continent were aghast at the fact the UK was doing little to stop a no-deal Brexit.
“At the moment the ball is rolling towards the Dover cliff and we are shouting ‘Stop the ball from rolling any further’ but nobody is doing anything at the moment, at least not on the UK side.”
Reports out of Westminster and accidental leaks from UK Brexit negotiators suggest Theresa May wants to wait until the very last moment to force her MPs to vote through her Brexit deal.
The Dutch government has sometimes appeared better prepared for Brexit than the UK, with advanced plans to recruit as many as 1,000 extra border officials to deal with potential disruption and extra bureaucracy caused by the UK’s exit.
In addition to private businesses, the UK has also lost a key EU agency to Amsterdam: the European Medicines Agency, which employs around 900 highly skilled workers.