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EU’s chief Brexit negotiator is delaying deal so he can be in the ‘limelight’, says most senior Tory in Brussels

Probably the most senior Tory in Brussels has accused the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator of searching for to delay the ultimate Brexit deal in order that he could be within the “limelight” when candidates are picked for the subsequent president of the European Fee.

In an interview with The Unbiased, the chief of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group within the EU parliament stated Michel Barnier had “no real interest in ending negotiations early” as a result of he fancied himself for the bloc’s prime job and wanted to be part of the “political theatre”.

Syed Kamall, a Conservative MEP, stated he anticipated EU negotiators would additionally delay hanging a withdrawal settlement to accentuate stress on the UK, doubtlessly leaving much less time for Westminster to evaluate and approve the ultimate treaty.

The ECR group chief, who backed Brexit forward of the referendum regardless of working carefully with David Cameron, additional advised that the EU didn’t wish to resolve the Irish border query shortly as a result of it might present a shortcut to a future EU-UK commerce deal. He argued that Spain was bluffing and enjoying to its home voters by elevating the standing of Gibraltar in negotiations.

“It’s fascinating the language they’re now utilizing: let’s attempt to get a deal simply after summer season,” he informed The Unbiased.

“They’ve performed that understanding there’s going to be slippage. It’s theatre – what they’ll say is, ‘Oh, we’re aiming for September, October.’ They’ll say, ‘Actually sorry Britain, you haven’t performed sufficient, we’ll have to slide a bit possibly till December once more.’ They’re constructing that in, that theatre.”

He added: “Don’t overlook, Barnier has no real interest in ending the negotiations early as a result of he must be within the public limelight to be thought-about a spitzenkandidaten. If the negotiations had been ended tomorrow, he’s out of the limelight tomorrow for 9 months earlier than they begin contemplating the spitzenkandidaten. He must be within the limelight at that time.”


Syed Kamall at Tory convention (PA)

Mr Barnier is extensively seen in Brussels as a possible candidate for the subsequent president of the European Fee, which since 2014 has been chosen by the main events nominating a lead candidate or “spitzenkandidaten” earlier than the European parliament elections. The collection of the candidate for the European Individuals’s Get together (EPP), of which Mr Barnier is a member, will happen at a gathering in Helsinki in November – that means it might most likely coincide with a last-minute extension of the talks.

Nonetheless, the chief negotiator has beforehand stated he’s absolutely centered on the Brexit discussions and would see them via to the tip. One supply near Mr Barnier stated his strategy up to now didn’t level to somebody attempting to delay talks, including: “It wasn’t us who determined to carry a common election after triggering Article 50.”

The European Fee president choice course of is extraordinarily difficult.

First, the European parliament elections are held, and the votes counted. Every political group within the parliament goes into the elections with a “lead candidate” put ahead for the presidency. 

Then, the European Council – comprised of all of the leaders of the EU member states – picks its nominee for president from the lead candidates put ahead by the parliament teams, taking into consideration the outcomes of the elections. That is performed utilizing a so-called certified majority vote – 55 per cent of the international locations within the EU, and 65 per cent of the inhabitants of the EU below the Lisbon Treaty. 

It will most likely imply that the chief of the largest group – presently the centre-right EPP – will get the fee presidency, although in idea different teams might workforce up and outnumber them.

After the council selects its nominee, the European parliament than has to log out the council’s choice, once more by majority vote.

Mr Kamall stated either side of the negotiations privately knew the talks concerning the Irish border, which has proved probably the most intractable challenge, had been a “fudge” to maneuver ahead to different areas.

“When you might have candid conversations, individuals let you know that they know in actuality in the event that they got here up with an Irish border settlement, that’s a template for the EU-UK commerce settlement. However they don’t wish to try this now, do they? That’s presupposed to be handled down the street,” he stated.

He additionally predicted that the Gibraltar challenge was unlikely to carry up negotiations – after Spain almost vetoed final week’s transition settlement over the territory and the EU27 referred to as for additional discussions about its standing.

“It’s partly for present, as a result of they’ve bought their home politics as nicely – but it surely’s partly as a result of in negotiations you’ve bought to throw extra issues into the pot,” he stated.

“In negotiations you ask for greater than you’ll be able to need and you’ve got issues that you just’re ready to present away. That is likely one of the issues that you just throw into the pot – however don’t underestimate it as a result of it might turn into a lightning pot afterward as a result of generally individuals then give attention to issues that haven’t been resolved.”

One yr to Brexit: What continues to be wanted to finish a cope with the EU?

Along with his criticism of Mr Barnier, Mr Kamall accused the European parliament’s Brexit coordinator Man Verhofstadt of “pretending” that EU residents had been going to be kicked out of Britain after Brexit to drum up political publicity. Mr Verhofstadt has been on the forefront of elevating residents’ rights in talks, and was greeted by grateful British supporters on a latest go to to Britain. Residents’ teams say they nonetheless don’t have certainty over their standing, although Theresa Might says the problem has been resolved.

“Man and I get on very nicely, he is an effective politician, he is aware of easy methods to get publicity, he additionally is aware of easy methods to play the press. He is aware of, for instance, in sure areas of the British press he would be the pantomime villain and in others he would be the point of interest for individuals who want Brexit might one way or the other be reversed,” he stated.

“He’s picked his points very fastidiously. He’s now a champion for the Irish, understanding full nicely that performs nicely, he’s turn into a champion for the EU residents, nonetheless pretending that they had been going to be kicked out.”

Mr Kamall, who says he has not but determined what he plans to do when Britain’s MEPs are despatched house after Brexit, referred to as for a rethink about whether or not to implement a points-based Australian-style immigration system – an strategy which Theresa Might has rejected.

In 2016 the prime minister stated points-based immigration system wouldn’t give the UK management over who entered the UK. The Tory MEP nonetheless stated such a system would assist shift the controversy from considered one of numbers to expertise.

Recalling the aftermath of the EU referendum, he stated David Cameron’s determination to resign had given the EU an “benefit” in talks and “time to regroup” after the shock vote – additionally branding George Osborne’s lack of remorse for not doing any preparation for the potential of a Depart vote “fascinating”.

“Trying again, they [the EU] had a bonus, as a result of after the referendum with Cameron resigning it created uncertainty on our facet,” he argued.

“Till that time they didn’t have a unified place on what occurs till Britain leaves. We might have exploited that, however as a result of we had Cameron resign, we needed to have a management election, happily it wasn’t so long as we thought it might presumably have been, it might have gone on longer, it gave the EU time to regroup.”

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