The UK’s Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab has been confronted by Michel Barnier over reports that the British government has written to the 27 other member states asking for side negotiations on transport in the event of a no deal Brexit.
According to reports, Mr Raab was confronted by Barnier during their most recent meeting in Brussels over correspondence sent in recent days to EU capitals by the UK Department for Transport.
The letters apparently asked the member states to prepare to engage with the British government in side deals on aviation and haulage, to allow key trade flows to continue in the event of the UK and the EU failing to come to an agreement on leaving the union by 29 March 2019.
Barnier is said to have reiterated that message to Raab, telling the cabinet minister: “If there is no deal, there is no trust.”
Responding to the row between Raab and Barnier over the 27 letters, an EU official said: “We are working for the withdrawal agreement, which is a deal to avoid a no deal.”
But such an exchange beggars belief and indicates the hypocrisy that has defined the EU stance throughout the Brexit negotiations. It is only natural in any negotiation that each side must adequately prepare for a no deal scenario. The British negotiating team, by reaching out to EU Member States, is merely exercising pragmatic caution.
The EU however, driven solely by principle, appears once again to be looking for an excuse to punish the UK for voting to leave its bloc.