Michel Barnier slaps down David Davis over EU rules during Brexit transition

Posted On: 
29th January 2018

Michel Barnier has rejected pleas from David Davis to water down EU plans for the transition period after Brexit.

Chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier delivered some bad news for David Davis
PA Images

Mr Davis said the UK wanted a say over any new EU laws it would be subject to during the implementation phase, and for the deadline for a deal to be done to be extended until the end of 2018.

But Mr Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, rebuffed both demands shortly after EU leaders published their plans for the second phase of negotiations.

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Under the proposals, Britain would continue to follow European laws and be subject to new regulations without any say over their content or implementation.

It would also have to accept freedom of movement and remain under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. In return it would keep access to the EU single market and customs union.

In a speech last week, Mr Davis said the UK wanted “a way of resolving concerns” if laws implemented by the EU during the transition “are deemed to run contrary to our interests and we have not had our say”.

Appearing before the Lords EU committee today, he added that the UK would next week tell Brussels that it was bad “democratic practice” to impose rules on a country without its say so.

But at a press conference in Brussels today, Mr Barnier shot back: “During that period the decisions will apply. And the UK must acknowledge and accept these rules of the game from the outset.”

He said the alternative would be an “a la carte” scenario - something the EU “did fear” as a possible future outcome but which would be unacceptable during the transition.

During his committee hearing today, Mr Davis also said the UK wanted negotiations on the future trade relationship to continue until the end of 2018.

But Mr Barnier rejected the suggestion and said the EU was “working towards the end of October” to ensure time for parliaments across the continent to ratify the deal.

“I want to be sure that we have that time... We can’t go too close to the end of the year, even if it’s not a matter of being too fussy about a week or so,” he added.


Meanwhile, pro-Brexit Tory MP Bill Cash attacked the EU negotiation document published today as it was debated in the House of Commons.

He argued that the plans were “inconsistent with leaving the EU” since they effectively left the UK in the single market and subject to Brussels laws with oversight by its institutions.

“Is the Government going to reject this new EU ultimatum including that the European Court of Justice will continue to apply to the UK?” he fumed.

But highlighting Tory splits on Brexit, pro-EU MP Anna Soubry said: "When are the Government going to stand up to the hard Brexiteers, who mainly inhabit these benches - there's only about 35 of them - see them off and make sure that we get a sensible Brexit?"