Flemish leader: "UK should become second Turkey"

Flemish Prime Minister Geert Bourgeois (Flemish nationalist) has spoken of his relief that the UK Parliament has now indicated that it does not wish to leave the EU without a deal.  The Flemish leader now hopes that Brexit will be delayed or abandoned.  Mr Bourgeois suggests that if that doesn't happen the UK should look at assuming the same status as Turkey.

"I'm pleased they are against a No Deal scenario. No Deal is a Bad Deal" says Mr Bourgeois.  "It's the worst scenario for the UK but also for the EU and for Flanders.  We will lose quite a lot of prosperity and many jobs."

Wednesday's vote still means there is great uncertainty.  The Flemish leader hopes difficult decisions are now taken swiftly.

"It's my absolute preference that Brexit is abandoned, that the UK says: 'We won’t divorce.  We will revoke and stay with you' or at least that they request a delay in which a new referendum or general election can be held.  I believe that public opinion and especially young people in the UK are starting to see what the enormous ramifications of Brexit are.  I hope that after a new referendum or elections they retrace their steps."

"If the UK persists in Brexit it will be difficult.  They will have to accept the withdrawal agreement and they will have to drop one of their red lines."

Mr Bourgeois says a customs union with the EU would then be the best outcome: "like in the way that Turkey is connected to the EU.  Surely, fewer connections are not possible: no free movement of people, no fixed contribution to the EU budget; they will not fall under the jurisdiction of the European Court and there is a solution for the border on the island of Ireland."

"The UK will have to accept that they cannot negotiate their own trade deals.  It's in their interest because the best deals are negotiated by a big bloc called the EU."