AMSTERDAM: Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte warned on Wednesday that time is running out to reach a deal before Britain leaves the European Union and urged the British to make up their minds.
“It is now up to the British to indicate what they want,” he told reporters in The Hague in reaction to Tuesday’s vote against Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal. “We have a little bit more time, but it is really going down to the wire.”
“We still hope to reach an agreement before they leave at the end of March,” Rutte said.
The Netherlands, one of the world’s leading exporters, with close ties to the British economy, is highly vulnerable to international trade fluctuations.
I regret, yet respect the result of the vote in #HouseofCommons on current #Brexit deal. NL & EU are still behind the agreement, but will keep preparing for all scenarios. Despite this setback, it does not mean we are in a no-deal situation. The next step is up to the UK.
— Mark Rutte (@MinPres) January 15, 2019
“A no-deal exit is of course worse than with a deal. What the Netherlands is doing is trying to ensure that the damage is minimised,” Rutte said.
He added that Britain’s firm demands about how it leaves the 28-member EU meant that “this is the only deal possible at the moment”.
“If they were to move on those demands we could try to reach another agreement, but unless that happens this is the only option,” the Dutch premier said.