Emmanuel Macron, the President of France, has removed any possibility of British officials arranging possible Brexit deals directly with member states.
Earlier this week, Macron dismissed talk that the United Kingdom might be able to bypass Michel Barnier, the European Union’s lead negotiator.
Macron insisted that Barnier is the exclusive point of contact even though Barnier is seen by several on the British team as being a significant hindrance to meaningful progress.
“I want to be very clear and reiterate our willingness of having only one negotiator and only one mandate,” Macron stated during a joint news conference with Mark Rutte, the Dutch premier.
“The only negotiator is Michel Barnier and I would like to clear up ambiguities regarding false information that were spread,” Macron continued.
“It is only once Mr Barnier will acknowledge sufficient progress has been made that we will be able to work on the next steps,” said Macron.
“We both believe that more urgency is needed so I call here on the UK government to engage more strongly in order to achieve progress on these key issues,” the Dutch premier added.
The latest round of talks between David Davis, the UK’s Brexit secretary, and Barnier ended this week with nothing concrete emerging.
Indeed, Barnier said there have been “no decisive progress” regarding the issue of the divorce bill once again, being the principal stumbling block.
Barnier said the United Kingdom did not believe that they are “legally obliged to honour its obligations” after the Brexit. Although no figure has been formally shown, it is assumed to be anything around €60bn and €100bn to exit the bloc.
On the other hand, Davis has stated that while there will be something to pay, it should not have to be decided before talks on trade deals occur.
That deadlock provoked speculation that the United Kingdom was seeking to bypass Barnier and communicate directly to member states.
While Macron’s intervention appears to have closed that plan off, the UK international trade secretary, Liam Fox, said Britain should not permit itself to be “blackmailed” over the divorce settlement, earlier today.
“We can’t be blackmailed into paying a price on the first part (the divorce fee),” he told ITV News.
“We think we should begin discussions on the final settlement because that’s good for business, and it’s good for the prosperity both of the British people and of the rest of the people of the European Union.”