Brexit bombshell: EU leaders to shelve Michel Barnier to force through UK trade deal

Brexit negotiations have been at a standstill for months as the UK and the European Union have repeatedly failed to compromise over their red lines. Hopes of a deal were renewed following a virtual meeting between Boris Johnson and EU echelons in June during which they agreed to ramp up talks to secure an agreement by December. Anand Menon, director of the UK in a Changing Europe think tank, forecast a “thin deal” will ultimately be agreed but suggested Michel Barnier will have to contend with the direct intervention of EU leaders in the negotiations. 

Speaking to Channel 4 News, Mr Menon said: “If you force me to guess, I would say yes, there will be a deal.

“I think it will come in the autumn. By the autumn, as the clock is ticking down, as it always seems to do with Brexit, heads of state and government will get involved, then the necessary trade-offs will be made.

“It’s worth bearing in mind, there are deals and deals, and this promises to be quite a thin deal that’s going to necessitate quite a lot of checks at our borders.”

The assessment comes as Michael Gove announced the Government will invest £705 million on new border infrastructure.

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Mr Gove said part of the money will be used to build land and border infrastructure while £235 million will be invested in a new IT system and staffing. 

The Tory frontbencher said: “We’re spending just over £700 million in order to make sure that our borders can enable the smooth flow of traffic but also keep us safe.

“Some people voted to take back control in the referendum three and a half years ago, they wanted us to be in a position where we could trade with our neighbours in Europe, but also have new trading relationships with other countries.

“In order to do that, that means that we need to have our borders upgraded in order to facilitate that trade and it’s also the case that we want to make sure that we can have tough and secure borders to deal with organised crime and other security threats and that’s one of the reasons why we are investing in more Border Force personnel.

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“I believe that if there’s a will there’s a way in terms of resolving outstanding issues.”

Mr Martin appeared positive about the prospect of securing an agreement with the UK, saying “there must be a deal,” but added that “it can’t be at any cost.”

A new Institute of Directors (IoD) survey of 978 business owners released on Sunday showed one in four firms are “fully prepared” for the country leaving the EU.

IoD director Jonathan Geldart said: “Directors want to take advantage of the opportunities that can come with an independent trade policy.

“They want to start this exciting new chapter on the front foot, not distracted by disruption.”


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