Express POLL: After Merkel statement, do you agree UK will thrive after clean Brexit? VOTE

The German Chancellor said Britain could join China and the USA as a “potential competitor” to the EU in the global marketplace. She shared her concerns at a press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris before the pair attended a working dinner on Sunday evening. Ms Merkel warned the EU needed to show what it “can achieve” post-Brexit.

She said: “We will do all this in the knowledge that with the departure of Great Britain, a potential competitor will of course emerge for us.

“That is to say, in addition to China and the United States of America, there will be Great Britain as well.

“Here Europe must show what the European Union can achieve: That means we must work faster, work more consistently, and the new [European] Commission with Ursula von der Leyen at its head should also become operational as quickly as possible.”

Her words come after she rejected Mr Johnson’s Brexit proposals in a phone call between the two leaders last week.

She was critical of the plans to reintroduce customs checks on goods moving between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

A Downing Street source said the German chancellor said during the phone conversation that a deal was “overwhelmingly unlikely” unless Northern Ireland was kept in the EU customs territory.

Last week, the Prime Minister was also told by Mr Macron that the UK needed to redraw its plans by the end of the week.

The Dutch foreign minister also warned that that more “realism and clarity” was required from the British.

READ MORE: Merkel fears successful UK will be 'competitor' like US after Brexit

EU politicians such as Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said a deal was possible and that much more work was needed.

But EU diplomats were pessimistic about the chances of Mr Johnson’s customs proposal for the Irish border.

A senior EU diplomat told Reuters: “We are not very optimistic.”

Mr Johnson will also have to ratify any last-minute deal in parliament, which will sit in an extraordinary session on Saturday.

As EU ministers met in Luxembourg ahead of the leaders’ summit, Mr Johnson’s planned legislative agenda was read out by the Queen at the state opening of parliament.

The queen said from the House of Lords: ”My government’s priority has always been to secure the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union on October 31.”

But the speech was criticised by the opposition as a pre-election stunt.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford tweeted: “The Queen’s Speech was an election broadcast for the Tory Party more than anything else.

“A speech heavy on law & order from a Prime Minister willing to break the law.”

And TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “This Queen’s Speech was a political stunt, not a serious set of commitments.”

Labour also branded the event “farcical” and a “stunt”.

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