British Prime Minister Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel attend the EU summit in Brussels on March 9, 2017. Photo: Reuters

As Europe waits for the launch of Brexit negotiations on Wednesday, German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble spoke to the Financial Times about the need for tough love.

“We have no interest in punishing the UK, but we also have no interest in putting European integration in danger over the UK.”

Schäuble, who is a close ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel added, “That’s why our priority must be, with a heavy heart, to keep the rest of Europe — without the UK — as close together as possible.”

The Financial Times writes on Chancellor Merkel’s toughening stance on the UK’s exit bill and negotiations that her change of heart has come partly in response to the increasing expectations of a hard Brexit.