Rutte, a key figure in last-minute talks between Britain and the EU to secure a divorce deal, said that Britain would fail to remain a major power at the global stage after Brexit.
In his interview with Spanish newspaper El Pais on Wednesday, the Dutch prime minister said the UK was “a waning country compared to two or three years ago”.
“It (Britain) is already weakening, it is a waning country compared to two or three years ago ... It is too small to appear on the world stage on its own,” said Rutte, adding, “Who will be left weakened by Brexit is the United Kingdom.”
The comments come as the EU and Britain are finding it increasingly difficult to reach a comprehensive agreement that could outline rules for a orderly divorce on March 29, Presstv reported.
The British parliament has already rejected a deal signed between London and Brussels, with most of the lawmakers believing the agreement would be more favorable to the EU than Britain.
Pro-Brexit politicians and campaigners believe that Britain would have short-term problems if it is forced to leave the EU in a disorderly manner, but they insist the country would emerge more powerful in few years given the benefit it receives from separate trade deals and also the fact that it would not be forced to pay tens of billions of dollars as compensation for leaving the EU.
Rutte, however, said Britain would fail to reach a level of power in future that could its current position under the EU.
“It is going to become an economy of middling size in the Atlantic Ocean. It is neither the US nor the EU,” he said after a speech in Zurich, Switzerland.
British Prime Minister Theresa May is desperately seeking concessions from the EU that can unite the parliament behind her Brexit deal. The EU has mostly rejected May’s demands, prompting fears that Britain would have no option but to leave the EU on March 29 without a deal.