Finnish Foreign Minister warns of “nightmare the day after Brexit”

Pekka Haavisto says there's going to be a lot of unknown elements when Britain leaves the EU at Halloween.

File image of UK and EU flags, Brexit / Credit: iStock

Finland’s Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (Green) has warned of the “nightmare the day after Brexit” as the clock counts down to Britain’s departure from the European Union on 31st October.

“We don’t know if the trucks can move and we don’t know if people can move, if the goods can move, what’s happening with our investments, our companies working in UK, UK companies working in Europe. I think it is not good for the economy of the UK, it’s not good for the economy of the European Union” Haavisto tells News Now Finland.

Speaking this week before British Prime Minister Boris Johnson sought the approval of Queen Elizabeth to suspend Parliament from mid-September, Haavisto confessed that the machinations of British politics – the shifting loyalties and seemingly endless plotting over Brexit strategies – left him confused.

“I think Brexit had been very dominant in the UK internal debate, I was this spring following very closely from TV the parliamentary debates in the UK, and the more I was looking the less I understood what it was about, what are the different groupings and sub-groupings and so forth.” he says.

The prospect of a no-deal divorce, where the UK leaves the EU without a signed agreement on the conditions of departure, is not something Finland relishes.

“When the new Prime Minister Johnson started he had a very clear announcement, it will be the end of October, Brexit, without any deal. And from our perspective it’s very unfortunate” Haavisto adds.

The Foreign Minister – who had a long career in domestic politics before becoming a United Nations diplomat and twice running for president – says he thinks the deal which was worked out between the EU and former British Prime Minister Theresa May‘s government should be respected.

“We would like everybody to stick to that agreement. And we think after that agreement, or in parallel, we would like a political statement or agreement of the future relations between us, the European Union and the UK” he says.

The British Parliament has rejected that agreement in three resounding votes.

Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto in his office, 27th August 2019 / Credit: News Now Finland

The losses: how Finland sees UK’s departure

It’s clear that Pekka Haavisto thinks Brexit will mean the loss of a natural ally for Finland in Europe.

The British government has already said it will stop participating in EU meetings from 1st September unless there is a pressing reason to be there, so this week’s ‘Gymnich’ meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Helsinki could be one of the last such events for Haavisto’s current British counterpart Dominic Raab, who has been in Helsinki on Thursday and Friday.

“For Finland, of course UK leaving away from the European Union is a big loss. It’s a big loss because we have had similar views and similar way of thinking on many economic issues inside the European Union. We have had many issues common in development policies. UK of course has a very wide global network. We had a lot of cooperation on security and defence sector with the UK”

Haavisto adds that of course the UK is only leaving the EU not Europe, and he hopes there is still scope for bilateral and regional cooperation.