EU lashes out at Boris Johnson in brutal comparison to Theresa May over Brexit talks
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Brussels accused the Prime Minister of being “absent” and “detached” in post-Brexit trade talks. The EU warned Mr Johnson needs to phone fellow leaders – pointing out that former Prime Minister Mrs May regularly did.
A senior EU diplomat told The Telegraph: “Is he even interested?
“What does it say to the 27 leaders when an issue as important as this is only dealt with by David Frost.
“It’s about time people higher up in the hierarchy start involving themselves if they want to achieve something.”
The diplomat complained that Mrs May was “always” on the phone to leaders such as French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Mr Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen held a video conference on Saturday following the final scheduled round of talks between Britain and Brussels last week.
After their conference call, the two leaders ordered chief negotiators Lord Frost and Michel Barnier to “work intensively” in a bid to make a breakthrough on a post-Brexit trade agreement.
In a joint statement, they said: “The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, spoke today about the state of play in the negotiations on the future relationship between the UK and the EU.
“They agreed on the importance of finding an agreement, if at all possible, as a strong basis for a strategic EU-UK relationship in future.
“They endorsed the assessment of both chief negotiators that progress had been made in recent weeks but that significant gaps remained, notably but not only in the areas of fisheries, the level playing field, and governance.
“They instructed their chief negotiators to work intensively in order to try to bridge those gaps.
“They agreed to speak on a regular basis on this issue.”
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The Prime Minister insisted a deal was still possible but warned of outstanding sticking points.
He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “I think it’s there to be done. Alas, there are some difficult issues that need to be fixed.
“There is no question that the EU needs to understand that we’re utterly serious about needing to control our own laws and our own regulations.
“And similarly they need to understand that the repatriation of the UK’s fisheries which were lost in 1973 is very important.”
Mr Johnson added that the UK simply wants the deal the EU has already given Canada, but if the bloc refuses Britain will accept an Australian-style scenario.
Responding to a comment made by Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte that an agreement is a “geopolitical necessity”, Mr Johnson said: “Good for Mark, in which case I hope that they’ll agree to the deal that we’ve set out.
“I hope that they’ll agree to the deal that we’ve set out because it’s a very good deal for the EU.
“All we’re asking our friends and partners to offer is terms that they’ve already offered to Canada which is you know a long way away from here.
“We’re very close to our European friends and partners, we’ve been members of the EU for 45 years, I see no reason why we shouldn’t get those sorts of terms.
“I don’t want the Australian-WTO type outcome, particularly, but we can more than live with it.”
Fishing rights, state aid and governance continue to be major stumbling blocks in post-Brexit negotiations.
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