Michel Barnier has stated that Britain has the ability to reverse Brexit and rejoin the European Union at any given moment.
The former Brexit negotiator said that the UK is well aware of the conditions required for re-entry and emphasised that “the door is open.”
During an interview on ITV’s Peston program, Mr. Barnier criticised Boris Johnson’s handling of the negotiations with Brussels, accusing him of disrespecting the agreement he signed by disregarding its terms.
He expressed his bewilderment at how the prime minister of a country as significant as the UK could fail to honor his own signature, stating, “The point is not to sign a treaty, the point is to respect the treaty and to respect its own signature.”
Brussels was incensed by Mr. Johnson’s breach of commitments outlined in the Brexit deal, particularly regarding the Northern Ireland border. Mr. Barnier blamed Mr. Johnson for wasting “two lost years” in the EU-UK relationship by entangling the UK in a legal dispute over the Northern Ireland protocol.
However, Mr. Barnier acknowledged that the EU had undergone changes and reiterated that the UK could rejoin the EU whenever it desired. He stated, “The door is open any time. I always say that during the negotiation and after negotiation, the door remains open.
To be clear, the UK government, the current government, the next government knows exactly what are the terms and the conditions to be part of the single market, to be part of the customs union, to join the EU.”
Nevertheless, he stressed the importance of understanding the implications and potential divergences that would arise during the transitional period. Mr. Barnier emphasised that it is crucial to assess the extent of the differences between the UK and the EU as if the UK were a new country seeking membership.
As the former French government minister who led the Brexit negotiations on behalf of Brussels, Mr. Barnier played a prominent role in shaping the Brexit divorce deal, also known as the withdrawal agreement.
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