EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier stunned reporters as he deviated from his usual “unflappable” nature to show “visible exaperation” at accusations from UK negotiator David Frost about the failed Brexit talks.
Brexit talks are on the verge of collapse after a row broke out between UK Chief Negotiator David Frost and his EU counterpart Michel Barnier. Mr Frost accused the EU of taking an “ideological approach” and warned them to drop it within the next fortnight. James Crisp, the Brussels correspondent for the Daily Telegraph, told LBC’s Nick Ferrari about the “strangeness” of seeing Mr Barnier “so visibly exasperated”.
Mr Crisp said: “You’ve got two big beasts facing each other here – the UK and the EU.
“Both sides are in their trenches and both are saying to the other side: ‘you’ve got to move’. That’s been the story of Brexit in a way.
“Last week, trade negotiations continued in Brussels and went very badly.
“On Friday, I don’t think I’ve seen Michel Barnier look so angry.”
He continued: “It was very unusual for him. He’s a very unflappable, distinguished gentleman.
“It was strange to see him so visibly exasperated.
“It was the accusation that the EU was being unreasonable, that the EU is being inflexible and unyielding.
“As far as they’re concerned, nothing in the negotiations should come as a surprise.”
The reporter added: “Boris Johnson agreed a political declaration, a non-binding document setting out the aspirational terms of the trade deal.
“Everything, more or less, that Mr Barnier is asking for could be seen as being in that document.
“It’s a case of interpretation and both fans interpret it very differently.”
The UK has six weeks until a legally binding deadline ruling out an extension to the transition period.
The deadline for a trade deal to be negotiated is the end of December 2020.
Mr Frost admitted there has been “very little progress” in talks with the EU.
Mr Barnier also revealed that the round of talks had been “very disappointing”, adding that he was not optimistic about the outcome.
The EU negotiator also accused the UK of trying to pick and choose parts of the EU single market.