Brexit secretary wrongly implies MEPs decide Brexit policy

by Denis MacShane | 04.08.2019

Steve Barclay says the EU doesn’t have a mandate for the Irish “backstop” because there are new MEPs. Can somebody please tell the Brexit secretary how the EU functions? 

Barclay writes in the Mail on Sunday that Michel Barnier, the European Commission’s chief negotiator, has lost his mandate. “Since the last mandate was agreed, 61 per cent of all the EU states’ MEPs have changed. Such a fundamental shift illustrates the need for a change of approach.”

It is true that the European Parliament’s composition has changed as it does after every election. However, if anything, the number of anti-Brexit MEPs has gone up with surges for the Greens, Liberals and even hard left MEPs. The UK itself chose more MEPs opposed to hard Brexit than those in favour.

In any case, it is not the European Parliament that determines Barnier’s negotiating mandate but the heads of the EU’s 27 governments. When Barnier told Barclay last week – “his mandate is his mandate – he can only negotiate what the Commission and leaders of member states have agreed” – he was telling the truth.

Barclay can go and hunt down any number of MEPs on their holiday beaches if he wishes. But it will be utterly pointless.

If the Brexit secretary wants Barnier to get a new negotiating mandate, he should tell Boris Johnson to go and see France’s Emmanuel Macron, Germany’s Angela Merkel and Ireland’s Leo Varadkar. Mind you, such visits won’t change anything either. Europe’s leaders have made clear until blue in the face that they will not betray peace in Northern Ireland just to appease the Farageiste tendency now in charge in the Conservative government.

Our new prime minister insists he will not talk to his opposite numbers unless they get rid of the backstop. If he really sticks to such a foolish approach, there will be no talks at all.

The rest of Europe is just enjoying the summer sun and puzzled at Johnson’s team making foolish statements. Barclay’s remarks come hot on the heels of Dominic Raab falsely claiming he regularly mentioned the virtues of a no-deal Brexit during the referendum campaign and James Cleverly wrongly saying the EU stops us having free ports.

The narrow group of anti-European obsessives who have seized control of the British government may be convincing themselves with increasingly wild post-truth claims. They are not convincing anyone else.

Edited by Hugo Dixon

5 Responses to “Brexit secretary wrongly implies MEPs decide Brexit policy”

  • Is Barclay ignorant or is this part of a deliberate ploy to emit lies and misinformation? It surely has to be the latter. It is great that Denis has called out the lies but will this make the mainstream media? Why isn’t Sky News or the BBC picking this up?

  • What is it with these people ? They’re not actually idiots, although they talk like one – are they so cynically self-indulgent and greedy for power and money, that they’re seriously going to run the country into a cliff (not just over one) ??

    I honestly think that the new crew in No 10 are guilt of treason. Their plans will ruin this country for decades and, for sure, break up the UK. If that isn’t treason, I don’t know what is.

    I understand the UK still has the death penalty for treason. Well, I can dream…

  • I wholeheartedly agree – Treason is exactly the right description for what Boris and his fellow travellers are doing

  • I have this conundrum…that Ministers should be above average intelligence, but they also seem to exhibit faulty memory and/or conclusions. Raab insists he frequently discussed a No-Deal Brexit during radio interviews. Both my memory and the BBC’s researchers are unable to verify this statement at all. A lawyer inventing things…amazing!
    Even at this late stage, the Brexiteer Ministers demonstrate that they neither understand the Brexit process nor the parliamentary rule-book. Raab, Patel and others are out of the depth and they fall back on providing answers that they prefer rather than the truth. Their actions are not quite treasonable but they do deserve a comeuppance. Perhaps Samual L Jackson got it right?

    “Ezekiel 25:17. “The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and goodwill, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness. For he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you.”