Barnier: Not even Farage can tell me the real benefits of Brexit

Michel Barnier speaks at the Web Summit. Photograph: YouTube.

Michel Barnier speaks at the Web Summit. Photograph: YouTube.

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EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has said he has never had it explained to him what the true benefits of Brexit are.

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He said that even leading Brexiteer Nigel Farage was unable to give an adequate response.

Barnier was speaking at the Web Summit in Lisbon as the UK prepares for a general election.

He explained to the audience: "Let me be frank. Until now nobody has explained to me the added value of Brexit. Not even Nigel Farage.

"It creates great risks in Ireland. Not just economic and trade risks. We're talking about people. Peace and stability is at risk."

Barnier was frustrated that a Brexit deal was within the grasp of parliament, but it had instead taken the course of an election instead.

"It is the EU and the UK that have reached an agreement. And for the first time ever, the House of Commons has approved the deal, but it has not yet completed its ratification.

"So the UK asked us for more time to ratify this agreement and also more time to organise general elections.

"The EU27 agree to give them more time until the end of next January. To do so, Brexit is a school of patience, Brexit is a school of tenacity."

He added that "the risk of a cliff edge remains" once the withdrawal agreement is ratified, as negotiations start on a trade deal, as he warned the UK cannot "pick and mix" EU trading standards.

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