politics

When Farage Met Barnier: EU Doesn't Get It, Says Brexit Backer

May Ready To Call Barnier's Bluff on Financial Services

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Nigel Farage, who as leader of the U.K. Independence Party was one of the leading campaigners for Britain to leave the European Union, crossed swords on Monday with one of his main EU adversaries.

After meeting Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, for about 30 minutes in Brussels, Farage said he was convinced that the Frenchman doesn’t understand why more than 17 million people voted for the U.K. to leave in the 2016 referendum.

“I really don’t think he gets it,” Farage said. “When I suggested to him that it might be something to do with open-door immigration in the European Union he almost looked at me with incredulity.”

Farage, a member of the European Parliament, said he was left with the impression after the Barnier meeting that the U.K. and EU would easily strike a trade deal for goods.

But “when you come to the concept of services, or financial services, his whole appearance changes, and it’s just kind of ‘no, this isn’t going to happen,”’ Farage said.

Farage’s meeting with Barnier is unlikely to make any difference to the negotiations on the U.K.’s withdrawal from the EU. For Barnier, it was an opportunity to demonstrate that his door is open to politicians whatever their views.

Farage said he’d requested the meeting after seeing Barnier meeting with a “never-ending stream of remoaners” -- the term used in the Brexit-supporting press for people complaining the U.K. should have remained in the EU.

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