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Barnier issues fresh Brexit warning at UK's ‘cherry picking’ – ‘We will NEVER sacrifice’


He said Britain’s refusal to extend the transition period had left both sides with just four months to come to terms on their future relationship agreement. While the Frenchman pledged to accelerate talks, he once again accused UK officials of trying to obtain a best of both worlds Brexit. He said Britain was attempting to “cherrypick” the best elements of the bloc’s single market despite wanting to leave it.

Mr Barnier told MEPs: “I remain convinced that an agreement is possible. But we won’t be striking an agreement at any price.

“We will never sacrifice the economic and political long-term interest of EU consumers and institutions for the benefit of the UK.”

He accused British negotiators of trying to win more favourable terms for the UK’s manufacturers and bankers as part of the future relationship.

“The UK tries to negotiate a status which would be very similar to the status of a single market member without having any of the constraints or disciplines – that’s cherrypicking on rules of origin, mutual recognition, financial services, qualifications, data flows and electricity.”

But Mr Barnier remained positive that a deal can be struck after praising David Frost, the UK’s chief negotiator, and his team.

The Frenchman said: “We have four months of negotiations behind us and four months of negotiations before us.

“It’s going to be difficult, but it’s possible. The time is very short, and I share the feeling of urgency expressed by Boris Johnson.

“And that is why we have decided, together with my counterpart David Frost, to step up, in July and August, as well as September, the negotiations to have more concentrated, more targeted discussions.”

Meanwhile, Ursula von der Leyen cast doubt on Boris Johnson’s ambitious push to deliver a Brexit deal by next month.

The European Commission President said trade negotiations are not yet “half way” towards an agreement despite the Prime Minister hoping to rubber-stamp the pact in July.

Speaking in the European Parliament, she said: “We are now halfway through these negotiations with five months left to go.

“But we’re definitely not halfway through the work to reach an agreement, little time ahead of us.”

Mrs von der Leyen promised that she would do everything within her powers to Britain leaves the post-Brexit transition with a deal.

“We will do everything in our power to reach an agreement,” she told MEPs.

“We will be constructive, as we’ve always been, and we’re ready to be creative to find common ground with it, even where there seems to be none.”

She said the bloc would not back down in its demand for a regulatory level-playing field as the price for any deal.

But in a challenge to Britain, she said EU firms would maintain their high standards.

She said: “The fundamental issue at stake here is fair competition ready and we are willing to compete with British firms, they’re excellent. And our firms are excellent too.

“But it cannot be a downward competition, just think of labour standards or environmental protection.

“It should be a shared interest for the European Union and the UK to never slide backwards and always advanced together towards higher standards.”


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