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Barnier WANTED Britain to leave EU all along, claims ex-MEP – 'No accident!'

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And Hans-Olaf Henkel said all sides should have realised the problems which would arise further down the track before signing the Withdrawal Agreement thrashed out late last year. With EU negotiator Mr Barnier and UK opposite number Lord David Frost trading blows on Twitter over the weekend, the prospects of a post-Brexit trade deal are currently looking bleak.

am convinced that French and other forces in Brussels actually wanted Britain to leave as it was always Britain which stood in the way of ‘more Brussels’ and ‘more Government’ and ‘The United States of Europe’

Hans-Olaf Henkel

There have even been suggestions Mr Barnier could be sidelined in favour of direct bilateral negotiations between the UK and individual member states including France and Germany.

Mr Henkel, who stepped down from the assembly last year, told Express.co.uk: “I am convinced that French and other forces in Brussels actually wanted Britain to leave as it was always Britain which stood in the way of ‘more Brussels’ and ‘more Government’ and ‘The United States of Europe’ and that Barnier, despite his public statements, would see Britain rather leave than stay.

“It is no accident that Ex-President Jean-Claude Juncker picked a French bureaucrat for this job.”

Mr Henkel added: “Michel Barnier is of course the archetypal French bureaucrat.

Michel Barnier Emmanuel Macron

Michel Barnier – and France – always wanted the UK to quit the EU, suggested Mr Henkel (Image: GETTY)

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson, the UK’s Prime Minister (Image: Parliament TV)

“That means he is highly intelligent, well educated and has perfect manners.”

Mr Barnier’s erudite approach had paid off in the early stages over the so-called sequencing issue, which split the negotiation into three sections, Mr Henkel said.

He explained: “In the beginning of the negotiations on Brexit he outsmarted the British Government (Theresa May) by insisting that before they start discussing a Trade Agreement, the EU should have an agreement on the critical issue of the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland plus a British commitment on the price of the exit.

“Because of May’s decision to call for snap elections during that time, her Government did not focus on the importance of the sequence of these three items to be negotiated.

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Michel Barnier Lord David Frost Brussels

Michel Barnier and Lord David Frost in Brussels (Image: GETTY)

“Too late, after the election, Britain discovered that an agreement on the border issue would depend on the type of the agreement on trade – nowhere in the world can you find a border rule without knowing what kind of a customs agreement it needs to regulate.”

As a result, there was a delay of almost a year, caused an enormous amount of pressure as time began to run out.

Mr Henkel, who is also a former President of the BDI,  Germany’s industrial lobby, said: “UK Tory colleagues of mine in the ECR-Political Group agreed with me at that time that Number 10 should never have agreed to Barnier’s time table and explained it with the attention to the UK election by Theresa May’s team.

“Barnier also managed to let Britain make a commitment on the amount to be paid for the Exit Bill before the agreement on trade.

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Hans-Olaf Henkel

Hans-Olaf Henkel is a German former MEP (Image: GETTY)

Jean-Claude Juncker

Former European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s appointment of Mr Barnier was no coincidence, said Mr Henkel (Image: GETTY)

“Again, I found it strange that Britain was asked to name a price before knowing what she would get for it.

“Why did Theresa May agree to the sequence of items to be negotiated? Why were the British negotiators always so poorly prepared when they met with Barnier?

“He always showed up with a stack of folders while his British counterpart had hardly more than a sheet of paper.

“Why did Britain change their negotiators so frequently? You may want to count them. Were there three, four or five while Barnier always stayed in the same job?”

Brexit timetable

Brexit timetable (Image: Express)

Mr Henkel declared: “From the very beginning it should have been clear that one could not have ‘no border between Northern Ireland and Ireland’ AND ‘no border between Northern Ireland an the rest of Great Britain’ at the same time.

“Consequently, the current mess is a result of this built-in contradiction.”

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson had “made a mistake” in agreeing to what Mr Henkel termed a “de-facto border between Northern Ireland and the rest of Britain”.

Mr Henkel added: “Without that commitment there would have been no agreement with EU and possibly ‘troubles’ in Ireland.

Theresa May

Theresa May had made a big mistake on the sequencing issue, said Mr Henkel (Image: GETTY)

“Now, he has made a complete U-turn and accepts a border between NI and Ireland to avoid one between NI and the rest of Britain.

“Both Britain and the EU should have known that you cannot have your cake and eat it.”

Mr Henkel concluded: “If I had a magic wand, I would vote for stopping Brexit altogether.

“It is a lose-lose-situation for Britain and the EU.

“It has one other advantage: Michel Barnier would be without a job.”



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