January 16, 2019 / 8:55 AM / 10 months ago

Dutch PM Rutte: Britain must tell us what it wants

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte speaks to the media as he arrives at an extraordinary EU leaders summit to finalise and formalise the Brexit agreement in Brussels, Belgium November 25, 2018. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte warned on Wednesday that time is running out to reach a deal before Britain leaves the European Union and urged the British to make up their minds.

“It is now up to the British to indicate what they want,” he told reporters in The Hague in reaction to Tuesday’s vote against Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal. “We have a little bit more time, but it is really going down to the wire.”

“We still hope to reach an agreement before they leave at the end of March,” Rutte said.

The Netherlands, one of the world’s leading exporters, with close ties to the British economy, is highly vulnerable to international trade fluctuations.

“A no-deal exit is of course worse than with a deal. What the Netherlands is doing is trying to ensure that the damage is minimized,” Rutte said.

He added that Britain’s firm demands about how it leaves the 28-member EU meant that “this is the only deal possible at the moment”.

“If they were to move on those demands we could try to reach another agreement, but unless that happens this is the only option,” the Dutch premier said.

(This version of the story fixes headline)

Reporting by Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Catherine Evans

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