‘I’m not angry, I’m calm like a mountaineer,’ insists Michel Barnier in frosty Brexit press conference, as he warns ‘no decisive progress’ made

  • ‘No decisive progress’ on key issues, warns Barnier
  • Barnier: I am not angry, but the clock is ticking
  • Davis told ‘you cannot control single market from outside EU’
  • Davis denies he is ‘nostalgic’ for EU benefits

Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, warned that no “decisive progress” has been made in the Brexit talks lon Thursday, as he and his British counterpart David Davis brought the third round of talks to a close at a frosty press conference in Brussels. 

Mr Barnier said a number of “useful clarifications” were made this week, such as on the status of border workers, social security rights and also dealing with pending cases in the European Court of Justice. 

But he said there has been “no decisive progress on the principal subjects.”

The French negotiator, who hails from the mountainous region of Savoie, also denied that he has appeared angry during the talks so far. 

“I am not angry, I am determined,” he said, insisting he was “calm like a mountaineer.”

British Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, David Davis (R) and Michel Barnier (C),

And in a move that is likely to frustrate the British government, Mr Barnier accused Mr Davis of trying to leave the single market and continue to enjoy its benefits at the same time. 

“I see a certain nostalgia in some requests from the UK which amount to enjoying the benefits of the single market,” said Mr Barnier. 

“But Brexit means Brexit, leaving the single market means leaving the single market,” he added, dismissing the notion that Britain could cut and paste EU standards into British law, in the interest of keeping trade flowing. 

Mr Barnier then went on to suggest that Mr Davis was “nostalgic” for some benefits of EU membership, prompting the Brexit secretary to brusquely reply:  “I wouldn’t confuse a belief in the free market for nostalgia.”

It comes after EU Brexit negotiators were left “flabbergasted” on Wednesday after their British counterparts launched a legal deconstruction of the so-called “Brexit bill” yesterday as the Brussels talks headed for an increasingly acrimonious impasse.

The British side spent three hours launching a painstaking, line-by-line rebuttal of the EU’s demands for €100bn divorce settlement to the barely concealed fury of EU negotiators.

David Davis, left, and Michel Barnier

“There was total amazement,” the EU source said, “Everyone was completely flabbergasted that this young man from Whitehall was saying that the EU’s preparation on the…

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