European Union should think about better ties with Russia - Juncker
Aug 31 2017
Nigel Farage blasted the likes of Michel Barnier and Jean-Claude Juncker for trying to hold Britain "hostage" during the Brexit negotiations.
The talks take place amid continued turmoil in Britain, with the Opposition Labour Party over the weekend backing a "soft" Brexit whereby the country remains in the EU's customs union and single market for a transition period.
European Union chief executive Jean-Claude Juncker blasted Britain's failure to answer "huge numbers of questions" on its Brexit plans as negotiators held a new round of talks on a divorce due in less than two years.
"We need to be crystal clear that we will begin no negotiations on the new economic and trade relationship between the UK and the EU before all these questions are resolved. that is the divorce between the EU and the UK", Juncker told the EU envoys who gathered in Brussels for an annual conference recently.
Sitting in for Iain Dale, he said: "It's rather like a ransom, they're treating us like we're a hostage". This month, he told the BBC that this was part of his negotiators' "constructive ambiguity" approach to try to obtain a better deal.
"We're free simply to walk away, I don't want it to come to that, but unless they're prepared to compromise then I just don't see quite what David Davis can do".
"Problems regarding Ireland and Northern Ireland, which are very serious problems, in respect of which we've had no definitive response", Mr Juncker said.
Mr Davis and Mr Barnier met on Monday at the start of the latest round of talks which highlighted differences between Brussels and Whitehall over the negotiating papers produced by the UK.
Barnier said: "We need United Kingdom papers that are clear in order to have constructive negotiations".
Meanwhile, David Davis, the UK's Brexit secretary defended his government's papers as "products of hard work and detailed thinking", adding that progress required imagination and flexibility from both sides.
"We want to lock in the points where we agree, unpick the areas where we disagree, and make further progress on a range of issues", he added.
Downing Street has insisted it is still a chance the EU will back down over its decision to hold off on negotiating the UK's future relationship with the trading bloc, as a series of highly antagonistic interventions from European officials threatened to overshadow this week's talks.
"I believe we should reflect on better relations with Russian Federation".
As day two of the latest round of Brexit negotiations got underway, Mr Juncker insisted to a gathering of European Union ambassadors in Brussels that the UK's Brexit position papers to date were not satisfactory, and that there were still "enormous" issues to be settled.