Friday 20 April 2018

'Ridiculous' - EU Commissioner hits out at Boris Johnson article

Boris Johnson. Photo: Reuters
Boris Johnson. Photo: Reuters
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

EU Commissioner Phil Hogan has described an article written by UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson as “ridiculous”.

The former environment minister said Mr Johnson’s attitude is “totally out of kilter with his own government’s negotiation position” on Brexit.

“I don’t know why the Foreign Secretary would intervene at this moment in time, to be troublesome in advance of Mrs May’s very significant speech. Maybe there are political reasons for that but they are not sound economically or in terms of the proposals necessary to bring sides together and bring momentum to the negotiations.”

In recent days Mr Johnson has said the UK should not pay for access to European markets. In a 4,000 article he also reignited the debate over how an extra £350m will be available for the NHS after Brexit.

“The £350m that every week is suppose to come back to the health service, he doesn’t seem to realise that won’t every happen. He doesn’t seem to realise Mr Farage walked away from that commitment the day after the referendum,” Mr Hogan said.

Speaking at the Ploughing Championship in Tullamore, Mr Hogan said the ‘Leave’ campaigners were “surprised” they won and “don’t know what to do”.

As a result the Commissioner says the exit negotiations are “stalled”, adding that an October deadline for the end of the first phase of talks could have to be pushed back to December.

“We’d like to see movement. We need to get on with it. There has been stalling in recent months. Unless something dramatic happens this decision to say that we have made enough progress to move on to the next phase. The decision will have to be postponed until December,” Mr Hogan said.

He called on the UK government to bring forward ideas for how they will ensure a ‘frictionless’ border while at the same time leaving the single market and customs’ union.

“We haven’t seen any solutions really. We’ve seen a lot of sentiment of positivity in relation to resolving the issues around the Irish border. Everybody agrees that we have to have a frictionless border situation now – but I cannot reconcile that statement with going out of the customs union.

“We have to find a way in which the UK will realise that it’s all very fine to make statements of intent but their positions have to be consistent with that,” he said.

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