MICHEL BARNIER, the EU’s chief negotiator, is not the only person to be left impatient by the UK’s approach to Brexit – this sentiment is shared by the whole country which is becoming perturbed by the level of Tory infighting and how this is preventing the Government from fulfilling its side of the negotiations.
Yet, while Monsieur Barnier will be rebuked by the more strident Brexiteers for suggesting that the previously agreed transition period is “not a given” if disagreements persist, his intervention might, in fact, help Mrs Theresa May to focus minds in her Cabinet following this week’s talks.
Time is not not on Britain’s side – the country will leave the EU in just over 13 months’ time and the resilience of the UK economy since the referendum in June 2016 masks the uncertainty facing all sectors of business and industry as clarity is sought on future trade.
However, while Mr Barnier is tasked with defending the EU’s interests, he does appear to have a developing rapport with the Prime Minister and a greater understanding of Mrs May’s political difficulties as she presides over a party in which two of the more viciferous backbenchers, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Anna Soubry, could not hold more divergent views.
Rather than the Tories continuing to fight amongst themselves – and being distracted by the selective leaking of sensitive documents – Mrs May and her team need to be engaging with the EU, and taking the fight to Brussels, while there are still negotiating options in play.