Senior officials in the French government have warned that Boris Johnson’s populist ideology could derail any post-Brexit relationship with the European Union.
A new report has suggested that the prime minister ismotivated by “short-term domestic political interests” and wants to use tensions with France to keep Brexit alive as an issue in British politics.
It follows talks between the UK and EU over the implementation of the Brexit agreement signed late last year amid growing concern over trade issues in Northern Ireland.
If no solution can be found, there are fears that the trade deal could be suspended, potentially leading to retaliatory measures between the two sides.
A French source told the Guardian that the “instability” in the relationship was due to Mr Johnson and Brexit minister Lord David Frost’s attitude to the negotiations.
“The instability is that some have concluded that Johnson and Lord Frost do not want agreements on the Northern Ireland protocol, or anything much, but will continue ramping up demands until they are impossible,” they said.
There are also concerns that the UK government does not want to improve relations until after France’s presidential election next April, according to the report, when Mr Macron is set to battle for a second term in office.
UK problems a “direct result of Brexit”
Meanwhile, an EU official has said the problems the UK is currently facing are a “direct result of a very very badly implemented Brexit by the Brexiteers”.
Austrian MEP Andreas Schieder, rapporteur for the Committee on Foreign Affairs, said the EU is not at fault for UK’s issues, and insisted the bloc has always said they would keep being flexible.
His statements come as the UK government said it wants to remove the European Court of Justice from overseeing the Northern Ireland Protocol, where the EU could take the UK if it does not respect the agreement signed.
‘Red lines we will not accept to go over’
Schieder said: “We want to protect the integrity of the single market and we want to also protect the Good Friday Agreement and the peace in Northern Ireland, so whenever it comes to how we can make it easier, we said we will always be flexible.
“But we will not accept that we go over some red lines and one is the responsibility of the European Court and also, the European Court has nothing to do with the question of sausages, empty shelves in British supermarkets or other issues. So therefore, this is an ideological point of Brexit.
“At the beginning of all this Brexit mess, we always asked the UK government what kind of future relations they wanted and they never can give the answer.”
‘Very badly implemented Brexit by the Brexiteers’
He added: “We see now the results of Brexit, it’s empty shelves in the supermarkets, no butchers in slaughterhouses, problems at the gas stations.
“This is a direct result of a very very badly implemented Brexit by the Brexiteers and it’s not the fault of the European Union at all.”