EU's Michel Barnier is slammed over ‘outrageous’ jibe that Britain ran away from fight against ISIS terrorists by voting for Brexit
- EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier is facing backlash over security jibe at the UK
- Accused Britain of ignoring European pleas to fight ISIS by voting for Brexit
- Said when 'solidarity' most needed the UK had decided to be 'on its own again'
Michel?Barnier last night claimed Britain had abandoned Europe as the continent faces repeated terror threats from Islamic State.
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator cited recent attacks such as those in Paris and Brussels as a reason for members to stand ‘shoulder to shoulder’.
But he said the British had chosen ‘to be on their own again’ at a critical moment by voting to cut ties with Brussels. He said it was a decision that came just as the need to stand together was ‘so strong, so manifest’.
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At a security conference in Berlin today, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said the UK had ignored pleas from European allies to combat terrorism and chose to be 'on its own again'
Mr Barnier's comments on Britain turning its back on the threat facing Europe drew criticism from many social media users
Last night, UK officials accused Mr Barnier of an extraordinary slur, admonishing his behaviour as ‘irrational and stupid’.
His comments came despite repeated assurances by the Prime Minister that the UK will offer ‘unconditional’ defence and security support in the aftermath of Britain’s split with the EU.
The timing of Mr Barnier’s intervention risks inflaming tensions with Downing Street as both sides edge towards an expected deal on the first phase of Brexit talks within days.
The decision to target the UK over its commitment to security – despite being seen as the bloc’s leader on such issues – was described as insensitive given the series of recent jihadist attacks in Britain.
?It came as Theresa May made a secret visit to Iraq where she pledged ￡10million to help it fight IS terrorists. The Prime Minister has also spoken of her wish for an deal of ‘unprecedented breadth and depth’ on defence as part of an EU divorce.
In a further aggravating move, Mr Barnier yesterday accused the Government of failing to tell businesses the ‘concrete truth’ about the negative economic effects of Brexit.
The warning, including calls for companies to prepare for a ‘no deal’, will be seen as a thinly-veiled dig over the refusal by Brexit Secretary David Davis to hand over sensitive documents on the impact of leaving the EU.?
Mr Barnier made the comments during a speech in Germany after he briefed acting Chancellor Angela Merkel on developments in Brexit talks.
Theresa May, pictured in Baghdad with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi today, has been pushing for a breakthrough in Brexit talks
Referring to the referendum he said: ‘It was a decision that came after a series of attacks on European soil, committed by young people who grew up in Europe, in our countries.
‘It was a decision that came six months after the French minister of defence issued a call for solidarity to all his European counterparts to join forces to fight the terrorism of Daesh [IS].’?
He added: ‘Never had the need to be together, to protect ourselves together, to act together been so strong, so manifest.
‘Yet rather than stay shoulder to shoulder with the Union, the British chose to be on their own again.’ Addressing a security conference in Berlin, Mr Barnier also suggested that the election of Donald Trump was further reason for the UK to draw closer to the EU.
Tory MP James Cleverley said: ‘I find myself having to disagree. It is outrageous that Barnier is trying to talk down the UK’s role in combating Daesh [IS].’ Party colleague Andrew Bridgen added: ‘This is a denial of the truth as Europe relies on British intelligence.
‘With remarks like these, it easy to see why it has been difficult for David Davis ... to do a deal.’?
Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage called the comments ‘extraordinary’. During his speech Mr Barnier told the UK it could no longer halt the ‘unprecedented’ push for a defence union, which critics fear could lead to an EU army.
‘The construction of a “Europe of Defence” has begun,’ he said. ‘Obviously, we will not wait for the United Kingdom to implement it, but when the time comes we will be ready to cooperate.’?
He said it was ‘logical’ that Britain would fall out of Brussels-backed security and defence arrangements such as Interpol. But he stressed the UK would maintain close ties through Nato.
The negotiator said it was ‘no secret’ that Britain had long opposed EU integration on defence but added: ‘The United Kingdom may not decide on the use of certain capacities under the European flag.’
How experts at GCHQ defend the continent?
Europe?would be more vulnerable to terrorism and organised crime without Britain’s intelligence expertise.
Security chiefs in Brussels will be worried because the UK is one of the biggest contributors to the global fight against crime, including extremism, people-trafficking and cybercrime, and other nations rely on this intelligence.
In GCHQ, MI5 and MI6, Britain has one of the most effective antiterrorist networks and powerful surveillance systems in the world.
Senior policing figures have also highlighted the role played in their work by the European Arrest Warrant and the European Criminal Records Information System, which lists EU citizens’ convictions. Rob Wainwright, Europol’s British director, has previously admitted the agency would face a ‘significant detriment’ if the UK left.
Meanwhile, Richard Walton, former counter-terrorism chief, said withdrawing would have ‘little or no effect’ on Britain’s own ability to maintain security, but ‘represents a risk to the safety’ of other member states. He predicted they will therefore continue to seek access to the UK’s intelligence post Brexit.
Spending on counter-terrorism and the security and intelligence agencies – MI5, MI6 and GCHQ – will be ￡15.1billion by 2020-21.
In a separate address, Mr Barnier threatened to expose the economic risks posed by Brexit. ‘I don’t know if the whole truth has been explained to British businesses on the concrete consequences of Brexit,’ he said.
‘It is equally important... to prepare for a no deal scenario, implying a return to customs tariffs under WTO rules, not to mention increased border control procedures.’
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman stressed that the UK plays a ‘leading role’ in the fight against IS ‘both in terms of online extremism and on the ground’.
He added: ‘Her determination [is] to continue co-operating with the EU sharing information and standing together against IS and terrorism in all its forms.’
Mr Bone told MailOnline: 'This is extraordinary even by Eurocrat standards.
'I would much rather him lecturing the rest of the EU about what they are spending on defence. It is outrageous.
'The simple answer is that we don't have an EU defence force, thank God.
'NATO has kept the peace, The fact that we have come out of the EU makes no difference to that.
'This is an extraordinary attack on the UK. How can we negotiate with someone who says this kind of thing?'
A spokesman for Downing Street, responding to Mr Barnier's speech, said: 'The UK continues to play a leading role in combating Daesh in terms of online and in the fight on the ground in Syria.
'The Prime Minister has been absolutely clear in our ongoing commitment to the EU’s security.'
BORIS URGES EU TO START TRADE TALKS AS MAY 'OFFERS ￡50bn DIVORCE DEAL' ?
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on a visit to Africa today
Boris Johnson urged the EU to get Brexit talks 'off the rocks' today amid claims Theresa May has agreed a deal that could leave Britain paying into Brussels coffers for decades.
The Foreign Secretary demanded movement from the bloc as the Prime Minister faced a backlash over apparently increasing the divorce bill offer to up to ￡50billion.
The deal is thought to have been signed of by the Cabinet at a lengthy meeting yesterday, after weeks of tense negotiations with the EU.
It could pave the way for a summit of the bloc's leaders next month to launch trade discussions - although Dublin is still demanding more concessions over the border with Northern Ireland.
Sterling rallied on the news, but there was fury from Brexiteers who accused the PM of 'selling out' to Brussels.
Senior Tories told MailOnline there must be a Commons vote on handing such sums to the EU - warning ministers could struggle to secure a majority.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss told MPs today that any 'divorce bill' for Brexit will be contingent on getting a good deal on future trade.
A recent poll found that as few as 11 per cent of voters would regard paying more than ￡30billion as acceptable.
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