Brexit: It is in UK's 'best interest to behave' says Barnier
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And the bloc’s former chief Brexit negotiator accused Britain of “putting up barriers”, while appearing to suggest it would be “screwed” outside the single market. Mr Barnier, who is widely tipped to be considering a tilt at the French Presidency next year, made his controversial remarks during an appearance on Figaro Live yesterday during which he discussed the implications of Britain leaving the EU.
Asked about the possibility of the UK’s economy collapsing after Brexit, Mr Barnier said: “I don’t want that and I don’t think it will happen because it’s a great nation.
“But they left the single market, without having fully understood all the consequences, so they created barriers.
“Instead of eliminating barriers, they created them.
“Now they are out and all goods coming from the UK have to be checked to protect European consumers and businesses.”
Mr Barnier pointedly observed: “I think everything is going to be a little more difficult for them because they are no longer with us.
“They left, as they wanted, and now they are on their own.
“I think in today’s world, if we are not together, in the face of a great power that doesn’t need anyone’s help, we are screwed.”
Mr Barnier’s remarks come after a separate interview which he gave to Euronews earlier this week, during which his book, The Great Illusion: Secret Brexit Diary, was on the agenda.
Asked about his attitude towards Brexit now, he said: “Six months ago what is the word that would characterise the negotiations? I’d say tenacity and respect.
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“Since then though, I would say vigilance because this agreement is only worth something if it is implemented and respected.
“We are worried both about fisheries in the second agreement we made for our future relationship and also for Ireland where the British are trying to distance themselves.”
And he notably refused to mention either the current Prime Minister, or Brexit Minister Lord David Frost, when asked to offer an assessment of the people with who he had dealt during the talks.
He explained: “I’d rather say that I have a lot of respect for Olly Robbins, for example, who was Mrs May’s European adviser.
“I have a lot of respect for Theresa May herself, who was courageous and tenacious.
“I’d rather stop there in regards to the people I’ve described.
“But perhaps it will encourage people to read the book.”
Mr Barnier added: “It is the beginning of a new relationship with a country that has left, that wanted to leave the EU.
“We are not the ones leaving, they left the European Union and the single market, and this has had many consequences that were not fully taken into account by the British or at least that were not explained well.
“I am confident that this great country will honour its commitments even if it has intentions that I find difficult to understand because if you put things in perspective, the most important thing for the British, is to maintain a good relationship with the EU, its great neighbour and a market with 450 million consumers.
“If they were to question their commitments, I think it would be a serious problem for the trust that we require.”
(Additional reporting by Maria Ortega)
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