The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has said that Prime Minister Theresa May never told him that Britain would consider leaving the EU without a deal.
Mr Barnier told the BBC’s Panorama programme that neither Mrs May nor any of her ministers ever mentioned that the United Kingdom might reject the withdrawal treaty and may leave without a deal.
“No, I never listened [sic] to such a sentence. Never,” the bureaucrat revealed, and when pressed repeated twice, “never”.
This is despite the prime minister telling the British people that No Deal was always an option because “no deal is better than a bad deal”.
Speaking to a Brussels journalist on Thursday, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said: “If he is correct then May has openly lied to the British people and betrayed the Brexit vote.”
Foreign and Commonwealth Office boss Jeremy Hunt, a Remain voter and Boris Johnson’s rival to succeed Mrs May as Tory leader and prime minister, admitted to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the fact that Brussels “never believed that No Deal was a credible threat” was “one of our mistakes in the last two years” of negotiations.
May promised 108 times the UK would leave the EU on March 29th https://t.co/dUmhLJaPNC
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 20, 2019
The allegation by Barnier comes as Secretary-General of the European Commission Martin Selmayr reportedly told Panorama‘s Nick Robinson that Brussels had made an offer to the British government to put Brexit on hold for five years in order to develop a new EU partnership.
The right-hand man to European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker told the BBC: “I said very late in the night, sometime, ‘Could we not have used this time… [working on] a divorce agreement, [to work on] a rules-based international system, to develop a joint alliance against cyber crime, cyber terrorism? Would we not use our time more efficiently?’
“I think we all agreed in the room, but we all are officials and we had to respect the mandate that was given and that was unfortunately to negotiate a divorce,” Mr Selmayr said, implying that not one British negotiator working on the divorce agreement with Brussels wanted to leave the EU.
Mr Farage has previously criticised the Conservative Party government for its lack of preparation for post-Brexit Britain, notably on the progress on a bilateral trade deal between the United Kingdom and the United States, resulting in the MEP announcing he would be conducting his own trade mission to the U.S.
Recently leaked documents revealed that U.S. officials were becoming frustrated with the lack of progress on a deal, because the British had failed to hire enough trade specialists and get the right people in the negotiating room.
President Trump Burns ‘Wacky, Very Stupid’ British Ambassador, ‘Disaster’ Brexit Negotiations https://t.co/FaC8VXFcCu
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) July 9, 2019