Michel Barnier 'did his utmost to stop Brexit' says Farage
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The former Brexit negotiator said eurocrats must learn from the reasons behind Britons’ vote to quit the Brussels project. As part of his pitch to become France’s next president, he said there are numerous “things that don’t work in the European Union” and that he would change them. In a fiery rant, Mr Barnier said: “Those who don’t bother to think why Brexit happened have understood nothing.
“If they tell me that nothing has to change in Brussels after the UK decided to leave the EU, they haven’t understood anything.
“And it is precisely because I’m a European, as well as a patriot, that I want to change the things that don’t work in the European Union.”
Mr Barnier, who has announced himself as a centre-right challenger to Emmanuel Macron in next year’s presidential election, singled out top politicians in the current government.
He suggested they had failed to address the powers of the European Court of Justice and recent decisions that impinge on France’s sovereignty.
“Did Clement Beaune and others say something?” Mr Barnier fumed.
“No, not a single word.
“What I want is to take this matter seriously.”
Mr Beaune, France’s Europe minister and a close ally of Mr Macron, has publicly criticised Mr Barnier’s call to hold a referendum on limiting the powers of the ECJ in France in order to implement a ban on non-EU immigration.
Critics claimed Mr Barnier’s eurosceptic election manifesto go against the European values he tried to defend during the Brexit negotiations.
“He’s destroyed the image that he himself created,” Mr Beaune said of Mr Barnier’s strategy.
And former Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said: “Michel Barnier is the biggest hypocrite ever born.”
But in a recent interview, Mr Barnier attempted to distance himself from his former sparring partner.
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The Frenchman said: “The difference between me and Mr Farage – whose remarks about me were, as usual, a bit ridiculous – is that I am not talking about freedom of movement in Europe. I’m talking about immigration from outside the EU.”
Mr Barnier has insisted that he doesn’t want to facilitate a “Frexit” vote but instead is seeking to erect a “constitutional shield” that will only apply to immigration policy.
“We all know that there can be links between some lines of migration and terrorism,” he told the Guardian.
“And we have had some dramatic examples of these links.
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“Certain decisions of the European courts have not been consistent with French security needs.
“So my proposal is for a referendum to be held in September.
“The idea would be that parliament sets a quota on immigration every year and a constitutional safeguard would allow France, for a limited period of time, to redraw policies that are not working, and would allow us to push for changes in Europe, as well as with countries of origin.”
Mr Barnier did conceded that his pitch to French voters does resemble Brexit campaigners’ calls to “take back control”.
“Absolutely,” he added.
“This recalibration between national and the European levels is what I want to do in France.”
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