A group of German business leaders are due to issue a demand to the EU and Angela Merkel’s Government that they ask Britain to stay as members but allow it to opt out of free movement and have complete control over its borders.
Last night Brexit supporters insisted that the plan must be resisted and that offering immigration control is not good enough when Britain needs its full independence to take control of its own destiny to strike out on a new path free of Brussels rules.
The move comes as businesses in Germany and across the continent are understood to be panicking about the prospect of the EU failing to get a trade deal with Britain amid growing anger over Michel Barnier drawn out negotiation tactics.
It is understood that the “New Deal for Britain” unveiled in Berlin on Monday will blame EU chiefs for allowing Brexit to happen by being inflexible and attack Mr Barnier for putting a trade deal in jeopardy.
They want to punish the British, I am surprised by the enormous arrogance
The event will be chaired by German MEP Hans-Olaf Henkel, a Liberal Conservative Reformer and former chairman of the Federation of German Industry (BDI), the German equivalent of the CBI.
Herr Henkel, who is a well known Anglophile, will be joined by two other former presidents of the BDI to make the demand with the three representing major businesses and scientists in Germany.
The move has come at a time of political uncertainty in Germany with Chancellor Angela Merkel in a weak position, still struggling to form a government after a disastrous election result in September.
If the demand is taken up then it would strengthen the hand of Remainers in Parliament who are pushing for a second EU referendum.
Angela Merkel and the EU are being pressured to ask Britain to remain in the bloc
The demand also feeds into growing concerns in France, Germany, Italy, Austria and Holland over the effects of freedom of movement.
Earlier this year Lib Dem former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg claimed that there may need to be a second referendum because he believed a new offer could come from the EU involving restricting freedom of movement from his discussions in Europe.
Nevertheless, it is understood Herr Henkel expects resistance to the plan in the European Parliament and Commission because of their “ideological” belief in the four freedoms, including freedom of movement of people.
But it is understood that behind the united front some senior political leaders of member states are also in favour of making a new offer to Britain as they fear the impact of trade barriers and losing the UK contribution to the EU budget.
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Reports have been drawn up which suggest that some EU goods currently reliant on the British market could completely lose out to competitors from outside the bloc because of the change in prices after Brexit.
Herr Henkel, who is also due to speak at a Brexit event in London on Tuesday, has been an outspoken critic of the EU’s approach to Britain since David Cameron’s bungled attempt at renegotiating the membership terms.
Last week he blasted Mr Barnier’s “enormous arrogance” and called his negotiating positions “illogical.”
He said: “I am convinced that these europhiles, most of the people in Brussels, they are absolutely scared stiff that some other country might get the idea and try to leave the European Union.
Chancellor Merkel is in a weak position, still struggling to form a government after the elections
“They want to punish the British, I am surprised by the enormous arrogance. The British government should point out the illogical sequence of items to be discussed.”
Last night he confirmed that “A New Deal for Britain” will take place at in Berlin on Monday morning but declined to confirm the details.
But he added: “This is not addressed to London but primarily the German Government, the European parties,[President of the European Commission] Herr [Jean-Claude] Juncker and [President of the European Council] Mr [Donald] Tusk”.
However, a source close to him said: “The demand to the German government and the EU is to ask Britain to stay and be allowed to control its own borders and immigration and maybe have some opt outs on other EU rules.”
The proposal has provoked a backlash from Brexiteers who last night warned against Britain caving in and remaining.
Pro-Brexit independent MEP Steven Woolfe said: “This is basically the Nick Clegg plan to force a second referendum and keep us in.
“This is a last ditch attempt by German business to keep Britain in the EU because they now realise that once Brexit has taken place Germany will have to pay more into the European budget.
“It must be resisted though.
“The British people have spoken and Britain needs to leave because it’s better for our future economy and democracy.”
Steven Woolfe called the plot ‘a last ditch attempt by German business to keep Britain in the EU’
Senior Tory MEP David Campbell Bannerman, who sits on the European Parliament trade committee and is organising a Brexit conference in Westminster on Tuesday, said: “This is not good enough!
“We’ve clearly voted to leave and the will of the people must be respected.
“The idea that a token gesture on borders would satisfy the UK when this is about the fundamental issue of who runs our country right across the board shows cynicism and naivety in equal measure.”
He added: “It was Mrs Merkel who finished off Cameron’s ‘Emergency Brake’ proposal.
“I can’t see her Government agreeing now to such a challenge to the rules of the free movement club.
“The choice is not just about immigration it is about choosing sovereignty over the fast emerging EU Superstate.”