Pittella: Conservatives to be blamed for Brexit´s negative consequences. We´ll defend EU and UK citizens’ rights.

Pittella, Barnier has experience necessary for Brexit role, European Commission’s chief negotiator,

Following the decision of the UK Government to trigger Article 50 and begin the UK’s departure from the EU, S&D Group President Gianni Pittella said:
“It is a sad day today for the whole of Europe and the United Kingdom. A divorce is always a defeat. Contrary to the false promises of the Brexiters´ propaganda, leaving EU will involve difficult decisions and there will be unexpected and often harmful consequences. British citizens should never forget who is to blame for this leap in the dark: Nigel Farage, the UK Conservatives, David Cameron and Theresa May.
“Facing a divorce, the first and most important thing to care about are the rights and wellbeing of the children. In this divorce, these are our citizens. We have a duty to safeguard the acquired rights of the EU citizens living in UK and the UK citizens living in the EU based on equity, reciprocity, symmetry and non-discrimination. We will not accept any degradation of these rights before the date of the withdrawal. We are confident a deal can be reached on this and should do so as quickly as possible to send a positive signal and reassure citizens who feel lost.
“For the S&D Group it is clear that the four freedoms of the single market are indivisible. Theresa May can forget about an arrangement that alters this. This is a red line for us. We will not allow a future relationship that damages the integrity of the single market or lowers European legal, social, environmental and health standards.
“We have the duty to safeguard the peace process in Northern Ireland by avoiding the reestablishment of a hard border.
“To dispel any possible doubt or speculation, no one wants or has the power to fine Britain for leaving the EU. However, it is obvious that the UK must honour all outstanding financial commitments taken by the British government, exactly as every other Member State does.
“We want to ensure an orderly Brexit. We want the negotiations to be fair, the future relationship with UK to be balanced and comprehensive and the United Kingdom to remain a close political and economic partner to the EU.
“Contrary to Theresa May’s position, we firmly believe that only when substantial progress has been made in the divorce negotiations can we start shaping the relationship between the EU and UK. It is only logical to finalise the terms of the divorce before deciding on your future relationship.
“The European Parliament has an important role to play and must be fully involved in this historical process. The S&D Group will be an active, responsible and transparent partner.
“We now have the duty to deliver the best possible agreement in order to protect the interests of future generations of Europeans.”