BORIS JOHNSON’S bid to “get Brexit done” has been mocked by EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier.
The Brussels Brexit chief told a private meeting of senior MEPs trade negotiations could not be completed in the timeframe set out by the Prime Minister. In a leaked recording, Mr Barnier is heard dismissing the UK’s 11-month timetable to wrap up trade talks by 2021 as “unrealistic” and suggesting negotiations will drag on until long after the end of next year.
He told the meeting: “With regards to this agreement, we will not get everything done in 11 months.
“We will do all we can – we won’t do it all.”
Mr Barnier, who was recently reappointed to lead the next round of Brexit talks for the EU side, told the meeting: “It is unrealistic that a global negotiation can be done in 11 months, so we can’t do it all.
“We will do all we can to get what I call the ‘vital minimum’ to establish a relationship with the UK if that is the time scale.”
He went on warn Britain would face another “cliff-edge” unless and extension to EU rules and regulations was accepted by Britain.
Mr Barnier said: “If there is no extension, we will still have a few months to achieve what I would describe as the minimum necessary for the economy and security or to prepare for a cliff-edge.
“Either we have a trade agreement or we will be in the WTO framework.
“We can’t take contingency measures on trade to give us more time. If there’s no deal, it is a cliff edge for trade.”
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said he hoped the British general election will lead to an orderly Brexit next month.
Addressing the Senate in Rome, Mr Conte made reference to an EU summit on Friday “the day after Britain’s general election which we hope will contribute to an orderly Brexit on January 31, 2020.”
He said relations between the EU and Britain after Brexit will be measured in proportion to London’s willingness to make commitments in areas such as people’s ability to move from country to country.
The comments reflect Rome’s concerns over the status of tens of thousands of Italian citizens living in Britain when it leaves the EU.
Mr Conte said: “An ambitious partnership cannot, for example, do without adequate mobility for exchanges between citizens.”
Brexit Party candidates have been “hounded and bombarded in the most extraordinary way”, according to Nigel Farage.
The party leader said the “tone of politics has deteriorated hugely” over the course of this election campaign which he described as “very, very nasty”.
He said: “I’ve seen people who want to put themselves forward for election, which of course is our right in a free society, hounded and bombarded in the most extraordinary way.”
The Brexit Party’s campaign has been dogged by criticism by campaigners and its own MEPs who say that standing candidates against the Conservatives risks splitting the leave vote.
Catherine Blaiklock, the Brexit party’s founder who resigned after retweeting Islamophobic messages, said Mr Farage’s strategy had failed and that people should vote Tory.
Surjit Singh Duhre, the Brexit party candidate in Doncaster Central, has reported receiving a death threat and being driven off the road.
The party has criticised the police for saying they were not treating the latter incident as suspicious.
A leaked recording of Michel Barnier ridiculing Boris Johnson’s hopes of a 2020 exit of the EU.
In the discussion with senior MEPs, the EU chief negotiator can be heard saying: “With regards to this agreement, we will not get everything done in 11 months. We will do all we can – we won’t do it all.”
The recording, obtained by the Independent, was said to have been made this week.
Mr Barnier continues: “We will do all we can to get what I call the ‘vital minimum’ to establish a relationship with the UK if that is the time scale.”
Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, has said the EU would be ready and unified in the face of Brexit, regardless of the results of the general election.
When asked for his plans if there is a hung parliament, the EU chief told the Telegraph: “Our message is we are ready and we are ready to keep unity.”
He added it is important for us to have “strong steps” to building a “strong relationship” with this “important country”.
A senior EU official added: “Whatever these results will be, the message from the EU is we are ready, we are ready to start negotiation on the future relationship as soon as Brexit takes place.”
Three-quarters of van drivers have said they want Britain to leave the EU, according to research by Vanarama.
The van leasing company surveyed 500 van drivers between December 5-10 and found people were backing the Tories over its Brexit policy.
35 percent said they planned to vote for the Tories, with 46 percent saying they wouldn’t vote for Labour because of its stance on Brexit.
The Brexit Party leader has predicted a “crisis” in the country if the Prime Minister wins a majority in the election.
Mr Farage has previously said he cannot support Boris Johnson’s “oven-ready” Brexit deal.
He said: “I know that if we get a Conservative majority, which I still think we will, then we will be back in crisis by May next year, as we face an extension to the whole process.
“I know what we’re doing is the right thing. I know that a botched Brexit, frankly, is barely worth having.”
Mr Farage said that Brexit “done properly” would help one group of people in particular – “the little people”.
Nigel Farage has said he will not disappear from politics once Brexit has been carried out.
Speaking in Doncaster, he said: “I have spent 25 years trying to reform Europe and I will be spending the next 25 years trying to reform our political system. I won’t be going away.”
Party leaders have one final day of campaigning before voters take to the polls on Thursday in one of the UK’s most unpredictable elections. But who will you vote for in the General election? VOTE HERE.
Nigel Farage is campaigning in Doncaster this morning, where Brexit Party candidate Surjit Duhre is running.
The seat was won by Labour in the 2017 election by over 10,000 seats.
In an open letter to voters ahead of the nationwide vote, Nicola Sturgeon has branded Boris Johnson “the greatest danger to Scotland of any Tory Prime Minister in modern times”.
Scotland’s First Minister also hit out at the Prime Minister’s Brexi plans, and said: “His hard-line Brexit policy would cost jobs and hit living standards – and will be carried out against the wishes of the majority of people who live here.”
The EU are secretly hoping Boris Johnson wins a convincing majority in the general election, Bloomberg reports.
More than half a dozen EU officials told the news site EU chiefs are privately hoping for a Tory majority, so that the UK’s drawn-out departure from the EU will finally happen.
The sources also said the EU fear a hung Parliament, as it could lead to more paralysis.
A Tory grassroots campaign group has urged Brexit Party supporters to vote for the Tories in tomorrow’s nationwide vote.
They wrote on Twitter: “Farage knows Tories’ deal is not BRINO [Brexit in name only]. If it was, he would never have stood down in over 300 seats.
“It’s a genuine Brexit that ensures full independence. Farage must do the right thing first thing tomorrow morning and that’s to instruct all BXP supporters to #VoteConservative.”