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Barnier slams British ‘blame game’ over possibility of a no-deal Brexit

Luke James
Brussels correspondent
Michel Barnier blasted attempts to blame the EU for faltering Brexit talks (Reuters)

EU Brexit chief Michel Barnier has said he believes that a “blame game” against the EU is underway in Britain over the growing possibility of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit.

Speaking after his latest meeting with Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, the French politician said he was working hard to avoid what he described as the “most costly form of Brexit.”

But he said: “I hear the debate in the UK about a ‘no-deal’ etc and to be very frank I do see this blame game starting against the EU in the case of a ‘no-deal.’

“The EU is not going to be impressed by that kind of blame game. Everyone should understand that.”

MORE: NHS warns ‘no deal’ Brexit could lead to hospital drug shortages and disease

Barnier made the claim as the UK government prepares to publish a series of reports on Thursday detailing its plans to cope with a ‘no-deal’ Brexit – including assurances of supplies of food and medicines.

NHS managers warned yesterday that a cliff-edge exit would create drug shortages in hospitals and help the spread of diseases.

Raab insisted today the UK would be “prepared for all eventualities” and rubbished “hair-raising scare stories” which he said would be shown to be “very far from the truth” when the reports are released.

Dominic Raab and Michel Barnier speaking together in Brussels (Getty)

The pace of negotiations has increased since Raab took over the post from David Davis – he has met Barnier three times in the space of 34 days. By comparison it took Davis more than six months to have three meetings with the EU chief negotiator.

And negotiations are being stepped-up again in a bid to reach a deal by the deadline – the European Council on October.

Barnier announced that talks between negotiators from the two sides will now be “continuous” and Raab announced he would be back in Brussels as soon as next week.

The two sides reported progress towards an agreement on defence and security cooperation after Brexit, but Barnier said frankly that there was continued disagreement over the economic aspects of Theresa May’s ‘Chequers plan’.

MORE: In 34 days, Raab has already met Barnier the same amount of times as Davis

Barnier said the plan “contradicts” his guidelines, which will be interpreted as opposition to a proposal for the UK to effectively remain in a single market for goods only.

Raab said “ambition on substance, energy and compromise” were needed to agree a deal by October.

He said: “We’re committed to that and if it’s matched we’ll get a deal. It’s that simple.”