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Charlie Weimers urged European leaders to stop playing “political games” and come to terms with the fact Britain will soon become a sovereign state. The eurosceptic also took aim at Michel Barnier, the bloc’s lead Brexit negotiator, criticising his “aggressive tactics” which have failed to break the current impasse.
Mr Weimers, who is part of the European Conservatives and Reformists group, has hit out at the EU’s “knee-jerk approach” to the current Brexit negotiations.
He made the comments after Brussels’ “torpedo” reaction to reports Prime Minister Boris Johnson is planning to override two sections of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement (WA), that sealed the UK’s departure from the bloc in January.
Draft legislation of the Internal Market Bill, which will formalise trading rules within the British isles from next year, indicates the Government plans to override elements of the WA, such as state aid and Northern Ireland customs.
The reports infuriated Brussels, prompting European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen to threaten to pull out of trade talks completely.
Mr Barnier also warned “a precise implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement” was essential to the success of trade talks between the two sides.
But the Swedish MEP said such bold responses were unwarranted, as the draft legislation hasn’t even been published yet.
Writing in a column for the Daily Mail, he said: “Of course, we still need to see the detail of the Bill before making a judgment, though I strongly suspect that these accusations are overblown.
“Even so, this episode has revealed the EU’s knee-jerk approach to these negotiations.
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“Put to one side the fact that a number of EU member states fail to accurately implement the bloc’s many protocols.
“Far more concerning is how it is symptomatic of the EU negotiators’ reluctance to accept that, whether it likes it or not, the UK is going to become a sovereign nation at the end of the year.”
The Swedish MEP also heavily criticised Mr Barnier’s approach to Brexit talks in general, and urged him not to be influenced by his own political opinions.
The eurosceptic described the EU chief as an “overzealous lightning bolt” and claims he is no longer up to the task – if he ever was in the first place.
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He writes: “Having watched how Barnier’s arsenal of aggressive tactics have failed to break the current impasse, it has become increasingly clear that he simply isn’t up to the job.”
Mr Weimers urges the lead negotiator to “wake up”, as time to reach a post-Brexit trade deal is fast running out.
The MEP said: “As Michel Barnier sits down today at the negotiating table, he would do well to wake up to a cold hard fact: the Brexit clock is ticking — and Britain and Europe’s badly suffering economies simply have no time for political games.”
The eighth round of trade talks between the UK and Brussels will begin today, after Mr Johnson declared a deal must be reached by October 15.
The negotiations will take place in London this morning, as David Frost, the UK’s lead negotiator, is set to tell the EU it must comes to terms with the reality Britain is a sovereign state.
Speaking on the eve of talks, Mr Frost said: “Today, I will sit down with Michel Barnier and drive home our clear message that we must make progress this week if we are to reach an agreement in time.
“We have now been talking for six months and can no longer afford to go over well-trodden ground.
“We need to see more realism from the EU about our status as an independent country.”
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