UK Politics

‘We WON’T be bullied!’ Mark Francois furious at Barnier


LEADING Brexiteer MP Mark Francois unleashed a scathing tirade against Nicola Sturgeon for meddling in Brexit talks, before saying that Michel Barnier “has blinked once and will blink again” under UK pressure.

Mark Francois was scathing in his assessment of Nicola Sturgeon‘s interventions in Brexit, saying that the SNP “will never accept that we voted to leave”. The Scottish First Minister today wrote to Boris Johnson alongside the First Minister of Wales to request an extension to the Brexit transition period. Mr Francois also ridiculed Mr Barnier for bowing under pressure in the past, and turned the Frenchman own phrase on him, saying “the clock is ticking”.

Speaking to the BBC, the Tory MP said that agreeing a “comprehensive free trade agreement” still remained possible – but reiterated that it had to be completed this year.

He explained: “The Government has made it absolutely plain there will be no extension of the transition period, and therefore we have until the end of December to come up with an agreement.

“I think we can do that because we managed to get them to change the withdrawal agreement and drop the backstop in three months, even though Barnier swore he would never do either of those things.

“They have blinked once and I think if we hold our nerve, they will blink again.”

Mr Francois was then questioned about Ms Sturgeon’s request this morning for an extension.

He was also grilled by the BBC about the outgoing boss of the CBI, Carolyn Fairbairn, who said British firms won’t be able to cope with a no deal Brexit after the coronavirus crisis.

The Brexiteer responded: “We have plenty of time, what we need to political will.

“The head of the CBI said recently that an extension would provide further uncertainty to business, and I absolutely agree.

“The SNP have never accepted that the people of this country voted democratically to leave the EU and they never will.

“Barnier ludicrously wrote to Ian Blackford, the SNP’s Westminster leader, to try and persuade him to force us to extend the transition period. Well, that failed.

“Someone needs to quietly explain to Barnier that we have left the EU and won’t be bullied or told what to do.”

Mr Francois added: “We want to negotiate a reasonable free trade deal, and if they don’t take us up on that offer, we will trade on Australia terms.

“The ball is in their court and to use Barnier’s own phrase, the clock is ticking.”

Ms Sturgeon today warned that exiting this year without a deal would be “extraordinarily reckless”.

The European Union has said it is open to extending the period, but an application to do so must be made by 1 July.