Michel Barnier: The UK turned its back on Europe's fight against Daesh with Brexit vote
Britain turned its back on the rest of Europe's fight against Islamist terror by voting for Brexit, Michel Barnier has declared.
In incendiary comments, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator said the UK had chosen to "be on their own again" despite pleas for solidarity in the wake of attacks on the continent.
His remarks, at a security conference in Berlin, mark a new low in relations between London and Brussels.
He said: "It was a decision taken against the backdrop of a strategic repositioning by our American ally, which has gathered pace since the election of Donald Trump,” he said.
“It was a decision that came after a series of attacks on European soil, committed by young people who grew up in Europe, in our countries.
“It was a decision that came six months after the French Minister of Defence issued a call for solidarity to all his European counterparts to join forces to fight the terrorism of Daesh.
“Never had the need to be together, to protect ourselves together, to act together been so strong, so manifest.
“Yet rather than stay shoulder to shoulder with the Union, the British chose to be on their own again.”
Mr Barnier also said the UK must leave a number of major cross-border European security organisations after Brexit despite the Government saying they want to boost cooperation.
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator said the move to force the UK out of security groups including Europol and the European Defence Agency is a “logical consequence” of the country's Leave vote.
In September Theresa May laid out her “unconditional” support for EU defence cooperation after Brexit, while Home Secretary Amber Rudd said she wanted a “new legal framework” that could “strengthen” partnerships between British and EU police forces.
Mr Barnier’s opposite number David Davis said following the Parson's Green tube bomb that effective cooperation would be “crucial” in order to keep Britons and Europeans safe.
But speaking at a security conference in Berlin, Mr Barnier said the EU's defence and security union “will have to be developed without the British” after March 2019.
“We must draw the appropriate legal and operational conclusions from this: The UK defence minister will no longer take part in meetings of EU Defence Ministers; there will be no UK ambassador sitting on the Political and Security Committee,” he said.
“The UK can no longer be a framework nation: it will not be able to take command of EU–led operations or lead EU battlegroups.
“The UK will no longer be a member of the European Defence Agency or Europol.
“The UK will not be able to benefit from the European defence fund the same way member states will. The UK will no longer be involved in decision-making, nor in planning our defence and security instruments.
“Everything I have just said is the logical consequence of the sovereign choice made by the British. We regret this vote. But we respect the choice that has been made.”
Mr Barnier's comments came just hours after it emerged there had finally been a breakthrough between the UK and EU over the Brexit divorce bill.