Europe

Brexiteer sums up Michel Barnier’s attempts to thwart Brexit: ‘Rigged!’

Brexit: Michel Barnier insists his ‘mission isn’t over’

The EU faced backlash this week after the bloc threatened the UK’s coronavirus vaccine supplies and triggered Article 16 of the Brexit deal. The latter was quickly condemned, prompting European President Commission Ursula von der Leyen to backtrack. In invoking Article 16, the EU effectively established a hard border on the island of Ireland.

The situation there has worsened since January 1 when Britain left the EU, as Northern Ireland – part of the UK – remained in the EU’s single market for goods and continued to follow its customs rules at the ports.

Goods going into the Republic of Ireland, which is part of the EU, will now face no checks of controls, in a bid to reduce tensions.

However, “suspicious activity” has been noted at Larne Port, with the brief establishment of Article 16 being cited as furthering the problems.

Many accused the EU of “not understanding” the Irish border, including political commentator Stephen Bush in a piece for the New Statesman.

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He claimed Brexiteers were also guilty of not “understanding” the border issue.

Staunch Brexiteer and former Brexit Party MEP for the West Midlands, Martin Daubney, disagreed, describing the move by the EU as an act of “trade war”.

In a tweet, he wrote: “After years of arguing to keep Northern Ireland in their customs orbit to scupper Brexit, the EU just kicked it out of its orbit, imposing a hard border, banning COVID vaccine ban to NI.

“Utterly unforgivable: an act of all-out trade war.”

Mr Daubey has previously said EU officials have essentially “played” with British politics.

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In 2019, he accused Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, of having used sneaky tactics during trade talks.

He went so far as to suggest Mr Barnier had “rigged” proceedings, saying the UK has been treated with “nothing but contempt”, and said he would “hate to play football” against Mr Barnier because “the match would be rigged”.

He then took aim at another EU heavyweight, Guy Verhofstadt, branding the Belgian politician “Emperor Verhofstadt”, a reference to the member’s speeches on a “world of empires”.

Mr Daubey said he was the “Darth Vader of Europe”, and called the European Parliament his “Death Star”.

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Mr Verhofstadt has previously drawn criticism over his “empire” rhetoric from both sides of the Brexit argument.

In a 2019 speech in the Dutch city of Maastricht, he said: “The world of tomorrow will be totally different from the world of today.

“It will be a world dominated by empires like China, India, the US, the Russian Federation.

“It will be a world in which our standards, our way of living, our values, our way of thinking will be under threat by these empires.

“That’s why we need to create a strong Europe, a united Europe as a counterweight for that.

“And for that we need also a new political force in the EU and in the European debate.

“A centrist, pro-European force, different from the old, tired socialist and conservative parties.

“The European People’s Party is so tired that they’re not even on stage this evening.

“That is the critical thing to do: A new Europe in a new world.”

In Robert Tombs’ new book, ‘This Sovereign Isle’, the British historian wrote that instances like this, as well as protectionism, appear to suggest that the EU holds an “imperial nostalgia”.

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