6 of the most scathing things Michel Barnier wrote in his brutal response letter to Mark Francois

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images/Yves Herman/Reuters

A few weeks ago, Mark Francois subjected himself to ridicule after he penned a letter to the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier in an ill-advised attempt to influence Brexit trade talks.

Francois, who is the chairman of the European Research Group, claimed that the letter was a 'missive from a free country' and complained about the European Court of Justice continuing to hold some power in the UK, as part of the Northern Ireland protocol.

We could have forgiven Barnier for not responding to such a preposterous letter but credit where credit is due and he has responded with his own letter, which has more than a hint of sarcasm to it.

We won't go through everything that Barnier said to Francois but we will detail some of the more scathing and downright hilarious things that he wrote back to the chairman of the ERG.

I have over the past years met British politicians representing the entire spectrum of views on Brexit, including the European Research Group, which you chair.

This is almost definitely a reference to Francois' description of the ERG in his own letter where he said "it is possible that you may have heard of us."

Not only has he heard of it, Mark, he also knows what your job is.

While no one has been able to demonstrate to me the added value of leaving the most integrated economic and free trade area in the world, I have always respected the UK's decision to leave the EU.

In this spirit, we approach the ongoing negotiations with your great – and indeed free – country, which will remain a close neighbour, friend and ally of the EU. 

To be honest Michel, we can't understand why we are leaving 'the most integrated economic and free trade area in the world' either but at least we are free country now, which we're pretty sure we were in the first place but who knows anymore.

Barnier then goes on to detail the legal agreement for the ECJ still holding power in Northern Ireland before adding:

This wording reflects the legal reality that the Court of Justice of the European Union must have the final word on the interpretation of EU law. All we are asking of the UK is to honour its commitment in the Political Declaration.

The final part of this might be a thinly-veiled dig at the many Brexiteers who had consistently claimed throughout the entire Brexit process that the result of the 2016 EU referendum result should be honoured and respected.

Barnier then gives Francois a little lesson in both history and geography:

You also refer to the level playing field. If the UK wants to conclude an economic partnership with the EU, fairness and the rules of the game in an unprecedented context of geographic proximity and close economic interconectedness, based on almost five decades of sharing the same single market, are necessary.

Barnier then adds that he and the UK's chief negotiator David Frost have both agreed to intensify their schedule of meetings with each other but he isn't particularly impressed by what he has seen so far.

This is why, with the UK's chief negotiator David Frost, I have therefore agreed on an intensified schedule of meetings. A restricted round of negotiations took place between 29 June and 2 July and subsequent rounds are foreseen in July, August and September.

However, let me underline that what matters more than the format of the talks is progress on substance and for the moment, results have been disappointing. 

So much for those talks going well then...

Barnier then concludes by taking a pop at the UK government for giving them such a short window to conclude the talks in, which have to be completed by 1 January 2021, with the small issue of a global pandemic preventing them from meeting in person.

We will continue to work with determination to conclude the negotiations with success as we continue to believe that this can be done despite the short time available, which is the choice of your government.

Ouch! Do you want some cream for that burn, Mr Francois?

Needless to say, those opposed to Brexit couldn't get enough of Barnier response to the Tory MP.

It remains to be seen what Francois and the ERG will say in response to this but with less than six months to negotiate a deal, this hardly seems like the ideal time to squabbling via letters. Surely they could do this over WhatsApp or something?

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