Chief EU Negotiator Barnier Says ‘No Way’ to a Special Deal for Britain
The ambitions set forward by the UK Prime Minister in her Florence speech may have fallen on deaf ears in Europe
The lead EU negotiator Michel Barnier has given his take on the ongoing Brexit negotiations and made clear his stance on the UK’s wish for a ‘bespoke’ trading deal.
In an interview with Prospect Magazine, Barnier said of the British negotiating team, “They have to realize there won’t be any cherry picking. We won’t mix up the various scenarios to create a specific one and accommodate their wishes, mixing, for instance, the advantages of the Norwegian model, with the simple requirements of the Canadian one. No way. They have to face the consequences of their own decision.”
While the left-wing press in the UK has been highly critical of the Conservative government and their handling of the Brexit proceedings, demonizing Boris Johnson, Liam Fox and other prominent ‘leave’ campaigners, right-wing publications have painted the EU and its representatives as enemies of the people. They frequently describe a small group of bureaucrats seeking revenge against Britain for the Brexit vote, portraying figures like the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker as pantomime villains, seeking to undermine Britain and its democratic vote.
Barnier addressed this representation while striking a softer tone, saying, “My mandate and the platform I have proposed have nothing to do with punishment. You won’t find a single word about revenge or undue hardship in my statements, or in those of the French president and other heads of state. We all regret the UK departure.”
He did however make it clear that he and his other EU partners sought to make sure other countries did not get the same idea as Britain. Barnier said, “The Brexit negotiation is unique and extraordinary—it is the first time an EU member state has decided to leave, and I’ll do everything for it to remain unique!”
The dismissal of allowing Britain special treatment may dash the fragile hopes of Theresa May, who hinted at a middle way between a ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ Brexit in her Florence speech in September, where she stressed she sought a different, unique kind of deal for Britain that would ensure a ‘deep and special partnership’ between it and the EU.
Mrs May is set to give a speech on the post-Brexit transition period to Parliament today at 10.30AM EST.
Meanwhile in the markets, the FTSE100 continues to make strong gains. It now sits above 7,515 points, after climbing by 200 since the first week of December. The Pound is up +0.70% against the Dollar and up by +0.24% against the Euro at the time of writing.
The Pound has been on a more bullish trajectory against the Euro since November after major breakthroughs in negotiations, but the real difficulties are yet to come (trade talks)
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