Michel Barnier exposed: Unearthed clip shows plans to isolate and use Ireland

Brexit: Barnier admits he will ‘use Ireland’ in negotiations

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The UK and EU are still locked in a stand-off over the Protocol. Brexit Minister David Frost and Boris Johnson have both said the Protocol is “not working and needs to change”. Last week, Lord Frost opened the door to negotiations to rectify the issues, promising to engage with the EU’s proposals “seriously, fully and positively”.

Among the key requests is to end the requirement of border checks entering Northern Ireland from mainland Britain.

Many have argued that the need to check certain items arriving in Northern Ireland essentially creates a border in the Irish Sea, threatening to disrupt the Good Friday Agreement.

The UK also wants to see the role the European Commission and the European Court of Justice (ECJ) have in overseeing the Protocol removed.

The fresh discussions are one in a string of twists and turns the Brexit saga has taken.

As ministers from either side prepared to sit at the negotiating table, footage of Michel Barnier talking about how the bloc could “use” and “isolate Ireland” reemerged.

The footage, filmed in 2019, was reposted to social media, after the EU claimed the UK was attempting to renegotiate the Protocol in “bad faith”.

Mr Barnier, who served as the EU’s Brexit spokesman, was filmed sitting at a table with EU officials as he claimed there was a “strategic and tactical reason” to “use Ireland for the future negotiations”.

Part of the BBC’s documentary ‘Brexit: Behind Closed Doors’, Mr Barnier is heard saying: “We are at a key point. In fact, we were ready on Friday to make this agreement but it stuck on the backstop.

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“For me, there is also a strategic and tactical reason, which is to use Ireland for the future negotiations.

“Isolating Ireland, and not closing this point, to leave it open for the next two or three years.

“And in that case, we will face clearly permanent pressure on the negotiations about trade, the single market because of Ireland.

“And we have to be careful what the reaction will be of the European Council and the member states.”

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Reposting the video to Twitter last week, the UKIP Bath and Somerset branch page wrote:

“Talk about negotiating in bad faith!!

“The EU are masters of the art.”

In the same documentary, Guy Verhofstadt, the former European Parliament Brexit coordinator, claims that one of the UK’s chief EU negotiators under Theresa May, Olly Robbins, asked him whether he could become a Belgian citizen during talks.

He said: “Olly Robbins came to me and said ‘Guy, can I become a Belgian citizen after this whole thing, because I don’t think I will return.'”

Not eligible for Belgian citizenship, Mr Robins’ alleged comment is likely meant to have been a joke.

But the civil servant did stir controversy among Conservative MPs and Brexiteers during his team at the helm.

Many MPs blamed him for an anti-Brexit ‘establishment plot”, criticising him as “secretive”, according to Politics Home.

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson has vowed to do “whatever it takes” to ensure smooth trade between Britain and Northern Ireland while rectifying the Protocol.

Maroš Šefčovič, the European Commission negotiator, last week set out proposals that would eliminate 80 percent of border checks for products of animal origin entering NI from mainland Britain, while checks on all goods will be at least halved.

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