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European Union fast losing patience with UK’s Brexit preparedness


Michel Barnier and other EU diplomats are losing patience and considering ‘stalling” Brexit talks over lack of UK preparedness to negotiate financial settlement.

Political upheaval in the wake of the General Election is causing delay and lack of preparation in the UK’s EU exit talks.

Michel Barnier, the European Union’s negotiator-in-chief has had trouble disguising his irritation at the beleagured British Government as David Davis MP, the Minister for Exiting the EU arrived in Brussels yesterday to embark on the next stage of the Brexit negotiations.


The major sticking point at this stage is that the UK has given a flat refusal to the EU’s initial proposals for the ‘divorce settlement’, the financial deal that will pay off the UK’s financial obligations to the European bloc. One of the EU’s diplomats attending the negotiations said yesterday that “it is reasonable to expect the Brits to say something other than ‘we will not pay a penny.’ If that’s not the case, what is there to talk about?”

The British government has not given any indication about how they are prepared to engage on the financial settlement other than Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s comments to the House of Commons that the European Union can ‘whistle’ for any financial settlement.

Concern about the British government’s negotiating strategy has also been expressed by Sir Simon Fraser, the former civil service head of the Foreign Office who said on the UK’s Channel 4 News yesterday evening that the UK should be very cautious going into the negotiations with too rigid an idea of what it is likely to get. At present, it would appear that this basic negotiating advice is being ignored.

After appearing in Brussels to start the negotiation talks, David Davis left after an hour to return to the UK to vote in a parliamentary debate on procedural issues. This hasty departure to shore up the government in the House of Commons has added to the impression that the government are trying desperately to hang on to power at all costs, no matter what damage is being done to British interests in the EU negotiations. Another impression being gleaned by M. Barnier and his colleagues seems to be that the negotiations are not being taken overly seriously by the British government.

Keir Starmer MP, the Labour Shadow Minister for Exiting the European Union blasted the government for its attitude to the negotiations saying “The clock is ticking and the risks are increasing day by day”.

Katherine Barfield