‘UK chose to be on its OWN!’ Michel Barnier rages Britain abandoned EU in time of need

MICHEL Barnier today refused to confirm reports that Britain and Brussels have agreed a £50 billion Brexit bill settlement, saying the two sides are “not there yet” on the issue.


EU chief negotiator Michel BarnierGETTY

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier

The EU’s chief negotiator said talks on all three key divorce issues are “continuing in a constructive spirit” despite claims on both sides that a deal on cash is done.In a speech to the Berlin Security Conference this morning he also accused Britain of abandoning the EU in its time of need after a series of deadly terror attacks struck the continent.

He said that as Europe was reeling from atrocities carried out by followers of the Islamic State group, the UK had decided to leave the club rather than “stand shoulder to shoulder” with its allies.

He scolded: “Never had the need to be together, to protect ourselves together, to act together been so strong, so manifest. Yet rather than stay shoulder to shoulder with the Union, the British chose to be on their own again.”

 However, the Frenchman called for an “ambitious” partnership with post-Brexit Britain including wide-ranging cooperation on defence, with the bloc pressing ahead with plans for its own army.
Mr Barnier said that there would be “appropriate legal and operational conclusions” from Brexit and that Britain will “lose its decision-making powers at the European level and some levers for wielding influence”.He said this will mean the UK defence secretary no longer taking part in meetings about EU military matters and UK ambassadors also being booted off its security committee.

On top of that, he added that in future Britain “will not be able to take command of EU–led operations or lead EU battlegroups” not will it be a member of the European Defence Agency or Europe police force.

There is no place for Schadenfreude in Brexit

Michel Barnier

The Frenchman explained: “Everything I have just said is the logical consequence of the sovereign choice made by the British. We regret this vote. But we respect the choice that has been made.”However, he said much cooperation between the EU and UK on defence and security matters would continue both at country to country level and through membership of NATO.

He praised Theresa May’s “unconditional” promise to maintaining European security, saying: “History teaches us that there must be no horse-trading over the security of Europeans – that is an absolute necessity.”

On the status of the Brexit talks, Mr Barnier said there is still more to do on all three main areas of discussion before sufficient progress can be declared, brushing aside rumours of a divorce bill breakthrough.

“There is neither revenge nor punishment in our mission. We are not there yet. The work on the three main subjects continues this week in a constructive spirit with the UK.

“The next European Council will take place in 15 days’ time. If real ‘sufficient progress’ is actually made, the European Council will be able to open the discussion a possible transitional period. Then the Member States will define in 2018 the framework of this new partnership with the UK.

“We hope that this future relationship will be an ambitious one. As Prime Minister Theresa May has said, the United Kingdom is leaving the Union, but not leaving Europe.”

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