Von der Leyen left red faced after ‘gibberish’ answer to UK Brexit position

President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, in a press conference today, urged the UK to “make up” its mind on what it wants for a post-Brexit future.

However, several commentators have said the UK has been clear of its intent to break away from the EU’s regulations and replicate a trade agreement similar to that of Canada.

Following her comments, The Daily Telegraph’s Brussels correspondent, James Crisp, insisted she must “update” her message.

He said: “I think she needs to update her messaging – this make up your mind gibberish is so last year.”

Commenting on the Brexit trade deal, she said: “We will make as much as we can but the truth is also that our partnership will be different.

“The UK will be a third country and the EU will continue to forge its path in today’s world on its own.”

Speaking today, Ms von der Leyen called on the UK to clarify exactly what it wants from Brexit negotiations. However, several political commentators said Britain hhad been very clear on its desire for a clean break from EU regulations and bureaucracy. Sir Keir Starmer has refused to rule out rejoining the EU in a shock announcement at the Labour leadership hustings on Sunday. Speaking on a panel with fellow contenders, Lisa Nandy and Rebecca Long-Bailey, Sir Keir could not rule out the possibility of rejoining the trade bloc in the distant future. Last week, the EU and UK concluded the first round of negotiations although Michel Barnier declared on Thursday the two sides had multiple areas of “divergence”.

Chiefly, according to Mr Barnier, the two sides still remain at odds over the issue of fisheries, fair and equal competition, criminal justice and the eventual dispute settlement.

Although he said the areas of differences remained, he said he believed a deal could be reached while warning it would be difficult.

He said: “To be completely frank with you, there are many divergences and they are very serious divergences.

“Which is probably quite natural after the first round of negotiations.

“Our differences come as no surprise, especially after only one round of negotiations, but some are very, very difficult.

“However, I continue to believe that we can reach a good agreement for both sides.”

Michael Gove has hit back at the EU after Ursula von der Leyen said the UK needed to “make up its mind” on what kind of a post-Brexit deal it wanted.

Mr Gove claimed the team of British negotiators who headed to Brussels for the first round of talks last week “made clear” that they wanted to become an independent country in 2021 and ruled out an extension to the transition period.

Updating MPs on the first round of talks, Cabinet Office minister Mr Gove said: “The UK’s team made clear that on January 1 2021 the UK would regain its economic and political independence in full, and that the future relationship would need to reflect that reality.”

Before the next round of talks, the UK expects to table “a number of legal texts, including a draft FTA (free trade agreement)”, Mr Gove said.

The UK will release a draft legal text ahead of the second round of Brexit negotiations next week.

Commenting on the approach, political editor for The Sun Tom Newton Dunn said the UK’s approach was a “punchy” one.

He said: “Punchy move by No10. Doing to the EU what the EU did to the UK during Withdrawal Agreement negotiations.”

Following her claims that the UK must make up its mind on Brexit, No10 has released a statement insisting the UK’s position has been clear.

It read: “I think the UK has made up its mind very decisively and has been very clear about what it wants from its future relationship with the EU.”

Ms von der Leyen’s criticism of the UK’s Brexit position has been met with widespread condemnation.

Deputy political editor for the MailOnline, Jack Maidment, said: “Ursula von der Leyen says UK must ‘make up its mind’ on what it wants in Brexit trade talks.

“Says if UK doesn’t want to play by EU rules it ‘will be more distant’ and ‘more difficult’ for UK to access the single market’.

“Which all feels a bit fingers-in-ears given UK position.”

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