European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt hits back at remarks from David Davis
‘Gangster’ Britain comes under attack over Brexit backtracking
The fragile truce reached between Britain and the European Union last Friday after the agreement of terms to progress to the second stage of Brexit negotiations is already faltering.
Britain’s minister charged with handling the process, David Davis, suggested at the weekend that the deal struck to seal separation arrangements and open talks on future relations was a “statement of intent” rather than “legally enforceable”, although he backtracked on the remarks on Monday.
However, Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament's Brexit coordinator, tweeted on Tuesday that “Remarks by David Davis that Phase one deal last week not binding were unhelpful & undermines trust. EP text will now reflect this & insist agreement translated into legal text ASAP”.
In a subsequent text he tweeted two amendments that he had proposed to the European Parliament, which will vote Wednesday on a motion on whether the talks can continue between the EU and Britain after the apparent agreement on the ‘divorce bill’, the status of the Irish border and the rights of EU nationals in the UK.
“After @DavidDavisMP’s unacceptable remarks, it’s time the UK government restores trust. These amendements will further toughen up our resolution.”
One amendment noted that “negotiations must be conducted in good faith and is of the opinion that negotiations can only progress during the second phase if the UK government also fully respects the commitments it made in the Joint Report and they are fully translated into the draft Withdrawal Agreement.”
The other stated that “comments made like those by David Davis calling the outcome of phase I of the negotiations a mere ‘statement of intent’, risk to undermine the good faith that has been built during the negotiations”
Talking to reporters on Tuesday, Mr Verhofstadt said: “I have seen a hardening of the position of the council (EU leaders), and there will be a hardening position of the parliament.
“It’s clear that the European Council will be more strict now in saying ... we want that these commitments are translated into legal texts before we make progress in the second phase."
Mr Verhofstadt added that Mr Davis’s comments were an “own goal” that was “undermining the trust that is necessary in such negotiations.”
There was further approbation from Philippe Lamberts, the Green group’s representative in the European Parliament’s Brexit steering group, who asked how “Britain [could] be taken seriously globally if it behaves like a gangster in its international relationships?”