Stephen Barclay urges Michel Barnier to seek new Brexit talks mandate or face no-deal
Stephen Barclay has urged Michel Barnier to seek a fresh mandate from European leaders in order to make changes to the Brexit agreement and avoid a no-deal exit.
The Brexit Secretary said the EU’s chief negotiator should face the “political realities” of a change in the make-up of the European Parliament or accept that a no-deal Brexit is "coming down the tracks".
Mr Barclay said Mr Barnier had told him last week that he is bound by the instructions given to him by the European Commission and leaders of member states.
But the Brexit Secretary has called on the EU to revise its consistent stance that the deal cannot be reopened given that 61% of MEPs had changed since the May election.
Writing in the Mail on Sunday, he said: ‘Michel Barnier is telling us his instructions from the EU mean he cannot change it.
“As he told me when we spoke this week, his mandate is his mandate – he can only negotiate what the Commission and EU leaders have agreed.
“But the political realities have changed since his instructions were last set. Since the last mandate was agreed, 61 per cent of MEPs in the European Parliament have changed. Such a fundamental shift illustrates the need for a change of approach… otherwise No Deal is coming down the tracks.’
The frontbencher, who retained his job after Boris Johnson took over from Theresa May last month, said there was “simply no chance” of a deal being passed in Parliament that includes the controversial backstop arrangement to ensure an open border in Ireland.
He added: “This is the reality that the EU have to face… The truth is that a deal is entirely possible if the EU take a reasonable and sensible approach. They should start by giving their chief negotiator the room to negotiate.”
The Prime Minister Boris Johnson has insisted that he will move to take the UK out of the EU by 31 October "do or die".
Ireland's Brexit spokesperson, Neale Richmond, hit back at Mr Barclay's intervention and insisted he had "no mandate for no deal".