European Union politicians praised the departure of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s chief advisor Dominic Cummings, claiming that the move signifies a “U-turn” in the ongoing Brexit negotiations.
MEPs in Brussels pointed to the departure of one of the key figures in the Vote Leave campaign of 2016 as well as the possibility of anti-Brexit Joe Biden taking control of the American presidency as signs that Prime Minister Johnson will wilt.
Manfred Weber MEP, the leader of the European People’s Party (EPP) group in the European Parliament and a close ally to Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, said per The Times: “We can see this as a quite chaotic situation where we don’t have any idea what is really the line.”
“I think it’s now time for leadership, having all the developments in America in mind, where London has understood it will be not so easy for Boris Johnson to achieve an easy trade deal. Now it’s time to take responsibility and come to a common understanding.”
Belgian MEP Philippe Lamberts said that the departure of Mr Cummings is “probably the sign that Johnson has begun his U-turn and will in the end accept EU conditions”.
Arch-europhile Guy Verhofstadt wrote on social media: “Unelected bureaucrats. Unrealistic ideologues… There’s so much irony to the Cummings story. But one thing’s for sure… the legacy called Brexit is damage that unfortunately will not be undone for years.”
Gone: Vote Leave Boss Cummings Walks Out of Downing Street Carrying Cardboard Box https://t.co/tQ8IsDBqAO
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) November 13, 2020
The giddy exhortations from the European side of the Brexit talks mirror concerns raised by Brexit leader Nigel Farage, who wrote on Friday: “It is well documented that I have never liked Dominic Cummings but he has backed Brexit” but “Seeing him leave Number 10 carrying a cardboard box tells me a Brexit sell-out is close.”
The official spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson denied that the move represented a shift in Downing Street’s negotiating position, saying it “is simply false”.
“The government position in relation to the future trade agreement negotiations is unchanged — we want to reach a deal but it has to fully respect the sovereignty of Britain,” the spokesman claimed.
“Time is in very short supply. The transition period will end on December 31. There is no doubt about that whatsoever,” he said, adding: “We would like to get a deal but it has to be one which respects the sovereignty of the United Kingdom.”
Short break from intense 🇺 negotiations in London.
Went looking for level playing fields… pic.twitter.com/2X4jbygorI
— Michel Barnier (@MichelBarnier) November 12, 2020
While the United Kingdom officially left the European Union in January of this year, it has remained bound by EU rules and regulations as a non-voting member during the Brexit “transition” period, which is supposed to conclude at the end of the year.
The Prime Minister has vowed to leave the EU without a deal should the two sides fail to come to an agreement that would be acceptable to the British public.
The EU’s top Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has been pushing for a so-called “level playing field” that would see Britain remain under the thumb of European courts, standards, and rules in order for trade to continue flowing freely.
European negotiators have also been pushing for continued access to Britain’s lucrative fishing waters, which would violate a key promise by the Leave campaign during of the 2016 referendum.
The EU controls its member-states national fisheries, and parcels out the lion’ share of British stocks to other countries — a jobs-destroying situation which Brexiteers had vowed to remedy.
Writing ahead of the departure of Mr Cummings, Nigel Farage lamented that the British government “squandered” four years of having a pro-Brexit president in the White House in Donald Trump. He went on to warn that it is likely Boris Johnson will be pushed into a corner and forced to sell out the Brexit movement to appease globalist forces in Brussels and Washington.
Farage said that “if all of this comes to pass, to say that it would be a disappointment would be the biggest understatement of my career.”
Farage: Brexit Party ‘Prepared to Restart Fight’ If Boris Agrees on Soft-Brexit EU Treaty https://t.co/g7OJjMLXGf
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) October 21, 2020
Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here: @KurtZindulka