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Theresa May’s Brexit proposals ‘not workable, basically’ says EU’s Michel Barnier

The EU’s chief negotiator has explicitly written off Theresa Could’s Chequers Brexit plan for customs and laws as unworkable, in an additional signal that the proposals are lifeless.

However Michel Barnier insisted he didn’t “simply reject the white paper outright” and as a substitute had highlighted “two main issues” which he particularly stated made the PM’s plan unacceptable to the EU.

The feedback had been made at a non-public assembly between Mr Barnier and MPs on the Commons Brexit Committee on Monday; a transcript of the assembly was launched on Friday by the Commons authorities.

The senior EU official stated there have been “plenty of constructive issues” within the white paper, however that basic issues meant that “your proposal doesn’t appear workable to us, principally”.

Ministers have stated categorically that the selection in Brexit talks is between the acceptance of Chequers and a no-deal Brexit. 

Mr Barnier re-iterated to the MPs what he has repeatedly stated in public: that the EU wouldn’t settle for splitting up points of the only market, and that it will not delegate EU customs duties to British officers as soon as the UK was not a member state.

There was a gentle Westminster row about Mr Barnier’s look on the committee assembly after Labour MP Stephen Kinnock, who was current, stated Mr Barnier had made it clear that “Chequers is lifeless within the water” and “fully unacceptable to the EU”.

I didn’t simply reject the White Paper outright; that’s simply not true. I hope that you’ll perceive that.

Michel Barnier

The transcript of the assembly was launched as a way to make clear what had or had not been stated on the assembly, because the Authorities nonetheless insists that its proposals have an opportunity.

Requested by the committee’s chair whether or not Chequers was “not going to fly” or “lifeless within the water”, Mr Barnier responded:

“To start with, let me say as soon as once more, not like what I’ve seen and heard over latest days, following a relatively too transient studying of my interview to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, principally within the White Paper there are many constructive issues, plenty of helpful issues, simply to make that completely clear. 

“I didn’t simply reject the White Paper outright; that’s simply not true. I hope that you’ll perceive that.

“Secondly, we have now two main issues, two points that we can’t settle for. Our customs union, our customs system, as it really works, is a totally built-in system that can’t be undermined and we can’t break up up the 4 freedoms of the only market. We’re ready to debate a customs settlement of some kind that simplifies customs preparations between the UK and the EU. Customs co-operation might even be a part of a free commerce settlement, if it went that far, however we do have an issue with the way in which through which our customs controls and checks work in the meanwhile. 

“There’s a clear hyperlink between customs controls and regulatory controls and that isn’t coated in your White Paper. Your proposal doesn’t appear workable to us, principally.”

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