UK’s Brexit Plan Partly ‘Positive’, Not ‘Dead in the Water’, EC Says over Barnier Controversy
A European Commission spokesperson has described the Brexit plan of UK Prime Minister Theresa May as containing some “positive elements”, and has cast doubts if the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier has really called it “dead in the water”.
A controversy over Barnier’s wording has emerged after on Monday, he met with members of the UK’s Brexit Committee, which contains both pro and anti-EU MPs.
After the meeting, Tory Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg said Barnier had agreed with him that May’s blueprint known as the Chequers plan was “complete rubbish”.
Then on Wednesday Labor MP Stephen Kinnock told the UK’s Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab that his EU counterpart had said the Chequers package was “dead in the water”.
Kinnock even switched to French, saying Barnier had said: “Les propositions sont mortes” (the proposals are dead). The UK’s Brexit committee is expected to publish a transcript of the meeting in the coming days.
UK leader May recently promised to make no compromises with her Brexit blueprint, the White Paper also kown as the Chequers plan, even though the EU’s chief negotiator had in essence dismissed some of its key provisions early on.
He reiterated his criticism more recently by stating the UK could not be allowed to “pick the raisins out”of the European single market.
Commenting on Barnier’s alleged comments about the Chequers plan being “dead in the water”, European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas urged journalists to wait for a transcript to be published, the BBC reported.
He added that the Chequers plan contains some “positive elements” but also that Barnier had been “very clear” in expressing the EU’s position.
“I don’t think that people present in the room and beyond the room have any doubt on what we said on Chequers – we identified where there were positive elements and we discussed also the possibility for further discussions to address issues that still create problems,” the spokesperson said.
“[The private meeting provided] the perfect recipe for everybody coming out of there and saying what one or the other understood Michel saying,” Schinas added.
“Let’s wait for the transcript and then let’s check the sort of things that are reported of what Michel Barnier said against what he actually really said,” the EC official urged.
The Brexit talks appear to have stalled over the key issues of how to avoid a hard Northern Ireland – Ireland border, and exactly what the future relationship between the UK and the Union should be.
The UK is supposed to leave the EU on March 29, 2019, and a Brexit deal is supposed to be agreed upon by October 18, 2018.
(Banner image: Michel Barnier on Twitter)