UK and EU will 'rip each other apart' in Brexit trade talks, says French foreign minister
The UK and the European Union will “rip each other apart” in the talks on a future trade deal, according to a top French politician.
Jean-Yves Le Drian, his country’s foreign minister, also said Britain is unlikely to achieve its aim of signing a free trade agreement by the end of the year.
Speaking at the Munich security conference, he said the two sides were a long way apart on a range of issues.
Mr Le Drian said: "I think that on trade issues and the mechanism for future relations, which we are going to start on, we are going to rip each other apart.
"But that is part of negotiations, everyone will defend their own interests."
He said he had massive files on his desk covering the contentious issue of fishing rights between the UK and the EU.
The former president of the Brittany region of France, where fishing is a key industry, added: “Let us hope that it is done as quickly as possible even if there are many subjects and that we have substantial points to manage.”
But Downing Street hit back, a spokesperson saying Britain was “not asking for anything special, bespoke or unique”.
They added: “We want a relationship based on friendly co-operation between sovereign equals, one centred on free trade and inspired by our shared history and values.”
It comes as Boris Johnson’s chief EU negotiator is due to set out the UK’s demands in the talks at a speech in Brussels.
David Frost, who heads up Taskforce Europe unit within Number 10, will make his first public appearance since Brexit on Monday night.