Former French Prime Minister and senator Jean-Pierre Raffarin [Image: Getty].

This is unhelpful – although not unexpected.

The implication – that France, Germany, and who knows how many other EU nation states actually want the United Kingdom to be worse-off after Brexit – sets up an atmosphere of suspicion and an “Us against Them” mentality that will be extremely unhelpful in the forthcoming negotiations.

Surely, if the remaining 27 states are convinced of the superiority of EU membership, they don’t need to try to make the UK worse-off, as implied in Mr Raffarin’s comments. Herr Weber’s remarks were more diplomatic and reflect this point of view better – although not perfectly.

So now, instead of going into the exit negotiations in an atmosphere of trust and with the hope of getting the best deal for everyone, it seems the UK’s representatives are likely to suspect the motives behind every proposal or argument that is made.

It’s no way to behave – and certainly not the way to make any progressive decisions.

Britain must not be better off outside the European Union after Brexit, an eight-month inquiry by the French senate has concluded.

The 51-page document also says Theresa May’s keynote Brexit speech at Lancaster House was a “mixture of veiled threats and pledges of goodwill” – a likely reference to the Prime Minister’s threat to take Britain out if the EU with no deal, rather than a bad deal.

The report adds that the EU’s four freedoms – goods, people, services and capital – are “inseparable” and it must not be possible for Britain to segment access to the tariff-free single market for certain sectors. “It is on this issue that the Senate will be very vigilant,” the report warns.

Last week Jean-Pierre Raffarin, a former conservative French premier who chaired the inquiry, added: “From a European point of view that the new agreements cannot be better than the old ones – which might be difficult for the United Kingdom side to accept – while at the same time protecting the EU’s joint interests, notably on security and defence.”

The report says that Brexit is a shock to European cohesion but the process, which it claims is now “inevitable”, must not take the European project “hostage” and says unity of the 27 other EU states is a priority.

It comes after a senior German politician warned that Britain’s exit from the EU will be “Mission Impossible” and create “a lot of damage” for the UK. Manfred Weber, the leader of the largest political group in the European Parliament, said the process of the UK’s break from the EU would not be an easy task.

Speaking at a news conference in Strasbourg alongside the European Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt, the German MEP said: “It will be a mirror, from my point of view, to show the people in the European Union that it is much more better to reform the European Union than to destroy the European Union.”

Source: Brexit: UK must not be better off outside EU, warns French senate report

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