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06-05-2021, 08:48 PM

Look back in anger

In his 500-page account of four and a half years of talks, the EU’s chief negotiator accuses Mr Johnson and his inner circle of “political piracy” and states baldly as negotiations reach their endgame: “I simply no longer trust them.”

Even the article reads like a thriller, the book must be a blockbuster.

EU Brexit negotiators had to act as the “adults in the room” in the face of repeated provocations from Boris Johnson which at times became “pathetic” and “almost childish”, Michel Barnier has said.
The Downing Street team were “not up to the challenge of Brexit”, and Mr Johnson himself appeared badly briefed in talks with European Commission presidents, said the Brussels negotiator.

But his diary of the protracted negotiations records how Brussels had to provide Mr Johnson with a “ladder to climb down” to provide a smokescreen for him to re-enter talks after threatening to walk away.
Mr Barnier said that from the start he felt that the UK’s Brexiters did not understand the consequences of EU withdrawal and recorded he was “stupefied” by Theresa May’s 2017 speech in which she ruled out most forms of future cooperation with the remaining 27-nation bloc.

In a crunch meeting with Ursula von der Leyen to seek a final breakthrough, Mr Johnson appeared “not to have taken the time to go through the detail himself with his team in advance”, telling the Commission president that he was ready to be flexible over fishing rights but needed to be able to show that the UK had won back its sovereignty in time for the next general election in three years.

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