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Michel Barnier has shown himself to be a man of principle – the opposite of Boris Johnson

EU Chief Negotiator on Brexit Michel Barnier (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images) - Credit: Getty Images

Readers praise EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier, who – unlike Boris Johnson – has shown himself to be a man of principle.

Very interesting interview with Michel Barnier by Marion van Renterghem. The EU’s chief negotiator comes across as a person of principle and values. I won’t make comparisons with those on the UK side.

Johnson and his advisers have never understood that the integrity of the single market, the huge swathe of other joint interests amongst the 27 member states and the principle of subsidiarity within a cooperative framework are far more important and of far greater value – in every sense – to them than the UK’s membership, however much they may regret our leaving.

The first rule of negotiation is to understand your adversary’s position whilst being clear about what you can realistically achieve. I only say ‘adversary’ because that has been the UK’s approach from the start, hence all the jingoistic rhetoric from politicians and the Tory media. The negotiating strategy has been deeply flawed throughout, but thoroughly in keeping with Johnson’s overall bluff, bluster and blunder.

Now the Telegraph is spreading the rumour that Barnier will be sidelined by the EU’s political big-hitters. This simply demonstrates just how little the UK government and the media understand about the EU’s position, and the trust its leaders have in Barnier.

Have your say

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The exasperation of the EU with the UK government’s intransigence has never been clearer.

Oh well, at least we now have a misogynistic climate-change sceptic on board. As I understand it, he’s good at signing off deals whether he understands them or not but has no track record in negotiation.

As he and Johnson fly round the world in search of trade partners thousands of miles away and are willing to add to carbon emissions, I can see the headlines now: Boris Flies Undone.

Phil Green

The blatant disregard of the UK of commitments already made by it in negotiations on a future trade deal with the EU has broken new ground, even for this government.

Months were spent in negotiating the Withdrawal Agreement and the Northern Ireland protocol, preventing a hard border within the island of Ireland and providing assurances in the areas of citizens’ rights and Britain’s financial obligations.

The Withdrawal Agreement is not optional, but a treaty which was ratified by the current British government, and which it is now seeking to undermine through publishing legislation that will attempt to override it.

To think that the government is prepared to shirk its responsibilities to two international agreements to satisfy rabid Brexiteer concerns is deeply troubling but not unexpected.

With the stakes upped and as we hurtle towards a potential no-deal Brexit, it will be the UK and the businesses and citizens already adversely impacted that will be affected most.

The UK must abide by what it has agreed to do, to stand by the Withdrawal Agreement it negotiated, indeed renegotiated, and protect the interests of those in the UK.

Alex Orr

Edinburgh EH9

Mandrake reports unprecedented protection for the prime minister at his country retreat.

This government is bungling the worst pandemic for many years, the worst economic conditions for many years and after everything that has happened the prime minister is as hell-bent as ever on the most damaging possible Brexit.

Boris Johnson has nothing to fear from our enemies. Who or what, exactly, is he afraid of?

Don Adamson


In management terms, the ‘Peter Principle’ observes that all-too-many people continue to be promoted until they have reached their ‘level of incompetence’.

Sadly, there is now clear evidence of an even more serious phenomenon which is where those same people then go on to be promoted several levels higher than that.

For wants of a better title, perhaps this should called the ‘Boris Principle’.

Andrew Thomson


Churchill is the prime minister’s hero but it is interesting to compare their behaviour at a time of crisis.

In May 1940, our ‘darkest hour’, Winston Churchill was leading a coalition government, working with his political opponents for the good of the country. Eighty years later, when the country faces a health and economic crisis from Covid, the self-inflicted threat of a no-deal Brexit and a possibly existential threat from climate change, how is his current counterpart behaving?

Let us take as an example the recent prime minister’s questions – when asked about the exams fiasco, the PM sought to dodge the question with the usual waffle and obfuscation, eventually trying to suggest that the leader of the opposition was complicit in supporting the IRA, and refused to withdraw the comment when asked to do so by the speaker. His response now, apparently, is to ask his staff to step up the personal attacks on Keir Starmer.

Where Churchill brought people together at a time of crisis for the common good, the prime minister and his advisors deliberately create division for the good of their cronies. The country, and particularly the voters who gave him his 80-seat majority deserve better – this is the behaviour of the playground, not grown-up government.

Nick Roberts

Selly Oak

Interesting to note Johnson decided to accuse Sir Keir of having sympathy with elements of the IRA. In fact Sir Keir was actually prosecuting these terrorists and seeing that they were dealt with by the law.

At the same time, Johnson has given a peerage to Claire Fox, who was a member of a far-left group that defended the IRA at the time of the Warrington bombings. How can we be giving people like her such positions?

Sue Henon


• Have your say by emailing Our deadline for letters is Tuesday at 9am for inclusion in Thursday’s edition. Please be concise – letters over five paragraphs long may be edited before printing.

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