The former Brexit Party MEP was speaking against a backdrop of rising uncertainty., with both Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen both conceding the difficulty of reaching a free trade agreement by December 31 – the day which marks the end of the Brexit transition period. One of the key sticking points is the EU’s insistence on the UK adhering to state aid rules aimed at protecting the integrity of its single market.
And Miss Widdecombe said the emphasis Brussels was placing on the issue offered a clear indication as to their concerns.
She told Express.co.uk: “I’ve said this before – what they are really worried about is getting a Singapore on their doorstep.
“If you think back to John Major’s time when we had an opt-out from the social chapter, we were getting at that stage 40 percent of all the imports from Japan and the United States.
“So into the whole of the EU, 40 percent were coming to us.
“And the reason was obvious – it was because we were well-positioned in the trading bloc, but also we had the most flexible labour market because we had the opt-out.
“And so it was well worth the inward investment – and they remember that.
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Speaking earlier this week, Rupert Lowe, who likewise served as a Brexit Party MEP in Brussels, offered a similar perspective on the situation.
He told Express.co.uk: “If we leave we are 19 countries effectively in terms of GDP.
“Ultimately we have a trade deficit with the European Union of £100billion.
“There is massive opportunity for the Government to take back our fishing grounds, rebuild not just our fishing fleet but our food processing businesses and create employment in our regions.
“But the question we have to ask is have these people got the will to regenerate Britain in the way it needs to be regenerated.”
“All we have got to do is get the right leadership.”
Speaking today in Brussels, Mrs von der Leyen said: “It is only fair that competitors to our own enterprises face the same conditions on our own market.
“But this is not to say that we would require the UK to follow us every time we decide to raise our level of ambition.
“They would remain free – sovereign if you wish – to decide what they want to do.
“We would simply adapt the conditions for access to our market according to the decision of the United Kingdom, and this would apply vice versa.”