James O’Brien says UK’s Brexit demands are like ‘asking to use the jacuzzi after we’ve stopped paying for the gym’
- Credit: Archant
James O'Brien has likened the UK's Brexit demands to 'asking to use the jacuzzi after we've stopped paying for the gym'.
O'Brien was wading into the news that another round of UK-EU trade talks had ended in deadlock.
Chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier warned that the negotiations, which ended on Friday, risked 'going backwards' and accused Britain of trying to wind down the clock and to pressure Brussels into more concessions.
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He said: 'Given the short time left, what I said in London in July remains true. Today at this stage, an agreement between the UK and the European Union seems unlikely'
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He follow up with a tweet saying the EU was 'worried' about the state of negotiations. 'We do not see how we can have a better agreement if we leave the most difficult subjects to the end. We risk running out of time,' he wrote.
His British counterpart, David Frost, accused EU negotiators of making talks 'unnecessarily difficult' because of demands on state aid and fisheries.
'The EU is still insisting not only that we must accept continuity with EU state aid and fisheries policy, but also that this must be agreed before any further substantive work can be done in any other area of the negotiation, including on legal texts,' he said in a statement.
'This makes it unnecessarily difficult to make progress.'
Following the news that another round of talks ended without a breakthrough, O'Brien slammed UK negotiators saying they would never be able negotiate a deal.
'Another round of talks is falling apart because one side thinks that the other is going to bend to their every request and desire while the other side is more concerned about protecting the integrity and value of something they cherish than they are about the immediate financial impact of waving goodbye to a former member,' he said.
He observed it was 'still astonishing' to see Brexiteers continue to push the idea that the EU needed the UK more than Britain needed it.
He said more than 30 years of 'gaslighting' and negative press about the EU had left Britons with 'no notion in this country of [the EU] being valued and cherished.'
Turning the Brexiteers' logic for leaving on its head, O'Brien said: 'If I said to you let's abolish the NHS and you said: 'well it's not perfect but I think we should keep it', you'd say 'No, we flipping won't!'
He claimed pro-EU voices mostly went unheard in the media because many backers were more concerned about 'keeping the peace' for the sake of the EU's longevity.
He then said the UK was pursuing a 'flawed' negotiating strategy of trashing Brussels while trying to negotiate a deal with them.
'What you've got is a negotiation ongoing between two camps, one of which thinks the other lot are idiots because they think it is a good idea to leave the European Union, which is why this is not landing.'
He said it was like 'we're still asking to use the jacuzzi after we've stopped paying for the gym.'
He added: 'We're saying I know I'm not paying anymore and I know I've actually left but can I still use the changing rooms? And [the EU] is saying, 'Don't be silly''.
O'Brien said Brexiteers suffered a 'psychological conundrum' that meant they never understood why the EU is protective of the single market and customs union.
He said anyone negotiating from the UK's position was 'doomed' to fail and that former British leaders like Theresa May apparently understood that negotiations were a form of 'damage limitation' against the UK economy for breaking away from its largest trading partner.
'The negotiations were set from the start as almost taking place in cloud cuckoo land because our negotiation is an attempt to limit the damage we're doing to ourselves,' he said.
Touching on the possibility of no deal, O'Brien asked where Boris Johnson's 'oven-ready deal' was now and believed the UK will be handed a 'flimsy deal' that Johnson and the right-wing press will promote as a 'beautiful cashmere scarf'.
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