Michel Barnier says Brexit could happen in other EU nations
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The EU’s former chief Brexit negotiator has been in London this week, which is home to 250,000 French people, as he campaigns for votes in his attempts to oust Emmanuel Macron at next year’s French presidential election. But no longer having a direct role in the EU has not stopped the Michel Barnier from taking yet another brutal swipe at the UK over Brexit as he waded in over the escalating fuel shortage crisis sweeping throughout the UK. A huge shortage of HGV drivers has led to struggles over fuel bring delivered to UK petrol stations, sending people into a panic-buying frenzy.
Mr Barnier was asked during an interview with German daily newspaper WELT if the current fuel crisis and resulting panic-buying is a result of Brexit.
He replied: “It’s partly because of the exit from the EU, yes.
“The free movement of people has ended, and trade barriers and goods controls have occurred at the same time.
“I have repeatedly declared such consequences publicly since the end of 2016.
“But the pandemic is also a reason for this crisis.”
The Frenchman was then asked if he becomes President – to which he boasted “I will become President” – if he would “help Boris Johnson when he asks for relief in such situations”.
In another brutal swipe towards Brexit Britain, he warned: “There are always technological possibilities, common approaches to simplify processes.
“But when doing so, the rules of the EU internal market must be respected. Food security.
“The taxes to be levied, for example when goods from China go to the EU via Great Britain.
“And the protection of our economy from trade of counterfeit products.
“The reason President Xi and President Biden respect Europe is because of our internal market – which is much more than a market.
“The British never really got that.”
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Mr Barnier was also asked about the current post-Brexit trading arrangements in Northern Ireland, which has seen tensions surge between the UK and EU over how those rules should be implemented.
The Northern Ireland Protocol was part of the Brexit divorce deal negotiated with the EU by Prime Minister Mr Johnson.
Britain wants large parts of the mechanism completely overhauled, but the EU are refusing any chance of it being renegotiated.
Earlier this month, UK Brexit minister Lord Frost tweeted: “The Protocol is clearly having a continued negative effect on everyday life and business in Northern Ireland.
“The outstanding issues now need to be dealt with urgently.
Mr Barnier was asked about the trade issues in Northern Ireland and if it is a strategy from the British to “drain the EU”.
He replied: “If you read my book, you will see that I always negotiated calmly and with respect.
The Frenchman then warned: “The UK needs to be careful.
“Because peace in Northern Ireland is at stake again.
“And the British must show responsibility to us too, so that we can trust them and build new relationships.”
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY MONIKA PALLENBERG.
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