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Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, heavily criticised Boris Johnson on Twitter this morning. The Frenchman scoffed at the Prime Minister’s claims the Withdrawal Agreement threatens the integrity of the UK, and also weighed in on the current dispute over food standards.
Mr Barnier wrote on Twitter: “Protocol on IE/NI is not a threat to the integrity of the UK.“
We agreed this delicate compromise with @BorisJohnson & his gov in order to protect peace & stability on island of Ireland.“
We could not have been clearer about the consequences of #Brexit.
“Sticking to facts is also essential.
“A case in point: The European Union is not refusing to list Flag of United Kingdom as a third country for food imports (SPS).
“To be listed, we need to know in full what a country’s rules are, incl. for imports.
“The same objective process applies to all listed countries.”
But political journalist Andrew Neil has confronted the EU chief, and asked Mr Barnier to explain what he means by the food imports comment.
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Responding to the EU negotiator on Twitter, Mr Neil wrote: “My understanding is that UK is sticking with EU food standards after 01.01.21.
“Any subsequent changes would have to be communicated thru WTO, for EU response, as per all other listed countries. So what‘s the problem?”
It comes after Mr Barnier hinted on Thursday Brussels could block the UK from exporting its agriculture and food to the bloc.
He said the bloc might refuse to add the UK to a list of countries allowed to export to the EU over fears its food standards will not align.
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David Frost, the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator, also responded to Mr Barnier’s remarks on Twitter.
Commenting on the food standards, he said: “The EU knows perfectly well all the details of our food standards rules because we are operating EU rules.
“The situation on 1.1.21 is accordingly perfectly clear.
“We have discussed this frequently with the EU including last week.
“Any changes in future would be notified to the WTO and EU in the usual way with plenty of lead time.
“The EU lists dozens of countries globally on precisely this basis, without any sort of commitment about the future.
“Yet it has been made clear to us in the current talks that there is no guarantee of listing us.”
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