Brexiteer Mark Francois mocks Michel Barnier’s accent as he insists there will be a deal with EU

ERG chair Mark Francois on talkRADIO; Twitter

ERG chair Mark Francois on talkRADIO; Twitter - Credit: Archant

Hardline Brexit campaigner Mark Francois has mocked the EU's chief negotiator's accent as he claimed the EU is so scared of Britain becoming an economic powerhouse that the EU will cede to negotiating demands and end talks with a deal.

Francois, the chair of the pro-Brexit European Research Group, instead pointed to what he called Britain's economic 'prowess'.

'The thing they've [the EU] have always been worried about is that one day we might become what you might call the 'Singapore of Europe' and with a different economic model over time, we would out-compete them.

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'That's one of the reasons they were so desperate to keep us in the European Union in the first place,' he claimed on talkRADIO.

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'The only way they can fetter that is by coming to some sort of agreement with us. So, I think in the autumn they may well start to make concessions because if they don't and we don't agree a further deal then it's Australia and WTO [terms] and there's nothing they can do to stop it.'

Francois supported his argument by referring to the EU's agreement to renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement with Britain and remove the Irish backstop but fell short of explaining what concessions Downing Street made - primarily allowing Northern Ireland to continue trading under EU terms after Brexit and imposing customs checks on British goods destined for Europe entering the region - to clench a deal.

MORE: Michel Barnier schools Mark Francois on the Brexit deal he backed in the House of Commons

'We probably won't know until October, at least, whether they're going to give it again. I still think they might and if not it's Australia {trade terms] and now the ball is in their court,' he told presenter Marc Dolan.

Mocking Barnier's French accent, he added: 'As Michel Barnier says, 'Ze clock is ticking'.'

Francois went on to suggest the coronavirus had helped boost talks because both sides were apparently desperate to kick-start trade as a wider plan to revive their economies.

He then made a whole spiel about the importance of Brexit for British institutions: 'We are now a free and sovereign country. They cannot tell us what to do anymore. For years, they did. We voted peacefully and democratically to end their right to tell us what to do.

'We will now decide our own national destiny - for good or ill - and they have to get their head around the fact that that is the world we're now living in.'

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