The EU’s Brexit negotiators are treating British politicians like naughty children misbehaving in the classroom.
Guy Verhofstadt, who represents the European Parliament at the Brexit talks, claims squabbles between British ministers are hampering progress.
Taking on the headmaster role, Verhofstadt is toeing the EU line that not enough progress is being made to open trade talks.
“There is a lack of clarity, there is even disunity. There are oppositions between Hammond and Fox. There are divisions between Johnson and May,” he said.
Not enough progress to start talking trade
“It is difficult to make sufficient progress. It is difficult to make the steps towards the second phase of the negotiations.”
The first phase of talks, according to the EU, cover the rights of British and EU citizens after Brexit, the nature of the border between Eire and Northern Ireland and how much Britain should pay the EU towards budget commitments.
Despite Verhofstadt’s claims, British ministers have presented a solid, unified front at this week’s Conservative Party Conference in Manchester.
Even Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, an outspoken Brexit supporter, has told the party faithful that everyone in the cabinet is fully behind what Theresa May has laid out as Brexit policy to ‘every comma and full stop’.
Brexit is harder than it should be
International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said: “Brexit is becoming a lot hatrder than it has to be and the blame for that doesn’t lie on this side of the Channel, the blame for that lies on the unwillingness of the European Union to get into the second stage of negotiations.
“You can’t really determine what a transition will look like unless you know what you’re transitioning to and until we actually get an idea from the EU of what the final relationship they want with the UK, it’s difficult for us to know that.
“The sensible ground is to say we are leaving, we’re best to go for a managed exit rather than a chaotic exit and for Britain to continue to argue our case.”
Fox also explained that the UK view was the EU should think less about how to define ‘sufficient progress’ and more about how to develop a future partnership with Britain.