Uncertainty around Brexit will not end on March 29 next year when Britain is due to exit the EU, European Tour Operators Association (Etoa) chief executive Tom Jenkins has warned.
Jenkins told an Etoa Brexit seminar in London: “The real discussions and real rows will start at the end of March. The problems will not be over on March 29.”
The Etoa chief offered “a view of what Brexit looks like from Europe”, saying: “In Europe, they think we’re mad.
“The UK is regarded as a dominant power from the EU point of view. The free market principles of the EU were largely drafted by the UK. All the meetings are conducted in English.
“The UK is widely perceived as the biggest beneficiary of the EU in terms of foreign investment, the single market and migration.
“Britain was granted special treatment in relation to the budget opt-out and Schengen agreement.”
He added: “Brexit is regarded as an act of self-mutilation in Europe and there is no desire to help with Brexit. Pro-Brexit arguments are regarded as toxic lies.”
Jenkins said: “The EU is conscious it is in a powerful negotiating position. Article 50 gives the EU full power to specify the severance terms.
“The EU was flabbergasted the UK government triggered Article 50 [in March last year] without knowing what it wanted.
“Viewed from the EU, the UK position is hopeless. Britain can’t agree a workable proposal. Threatening a hard Brexit is like threatening to throw yourself down the stairs.
“The EU is a machine committed to ensuring cross-border trade, but at the moment the only thing on the table is a hard Brexit.”
Jenkins warned: “The practicalities will become overwhelming within minutes of the imposition of non-EU controls on EU citizens.
“Just look at Heathrow where the queues for non-EU nationals can be three hours. That could increase by a factor of 10.”