Brexit: Michel Barnier insists his ‘mission isn’t over’
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Lord David Frost was appointed the UK’s Brexit and international policy representative in January, taking on the Cabinet role rather than assuming the position of national security adviser he had previously been poised to take. A strong ally of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Lord Frost will be responsible for the UK’s future relationship with the EU, especially on trade and economics. While Michel Barnier is eyeing a return to French politics, the EU’s former Brexit negotiator has still found one final opportunity to jibe at Lord Frost and the Prime Minister. In January, a diplomatic row erupted over the status of the EU’s ambassador to London after Brexit.
The EU’s foreign affairs representative, Josep Borrell, took issue with Britain’s apparent plans to treat the ambassador as a representative of an international organisation rather than giving him full diplomatic privileges.
Mr Borrell sent a letter to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab in November raising the issue.
The EU figure warned Mr Raab that the current arrangement does “not reflect the specific character of the EU, nor do they respond to the future relationship between the EU and the UK as [a non-member]”.
Mr Barnier weighed in on the dispute during an interview on the Brexit Republic podcast, saying he had discussed the issue with Lord Frost on a number of occasions.
The French politician said: “I made this point several times with the British negotiator David Frost, I know that the temptation for some British leaders is to speak about the EU as an international organisation, we are much more than an international organisation and the UK knows that fact quite well.
“I just want to say that it’d be wise for the UK side to find a clever solution for this point.”
Asked what the implications would be if the row continued, Mr Barnier repeated his ominous warning to the UK side.
He added: “I repeat, it would be wise for the UK to make a clever solution.”
Mr Barnier also sent another warning to EU ambassadors this week, telling them to be “vigilant” that Britain fully respects both the Brexit divorce and trade deals, especially the Northern Ireland Protocol.
He also warned the EU to ensure another member state doesn’t follow in the UK’s footsteps, Politico reported.
Speaking about Brexit trade talks in January, Mr Barnier denied that the EU was motivated by “revenge” during negotiations.
He told France 24: “There was never a spirit of revenge or punishment.
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“But ‘Brexit means Brexit’ and as for food products […] the fact that these products are now being checked for the safety of European consumers is the consequence of Brexit.
“It’s not a consequence of the specific deal that I helped create.”
On a potential move into French politics, he added: “I plan to remain an active and invested politician for as long as I have the energy, the enthusiasm and the indignation.
“I will get involved in this country that requires unity, that needs all kinds of energies and I will see with my friends where exactly I can be the most useful.”
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