22:31 GMT21 January 2021
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    The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator has warned that the EU will not be swayed by a blame game in the British press over who is responsible for the looming no-deal Brexit. Sputnik has spoken to Independent MEP Diane James about the latest developments on Brexit.

    Sputnik: What do you make of Mr. Barnier’s comments of the blame game?

    Diane James: Well, it’s interesting as he’s now trying to twist the situation, having played hard ball right up until now; making it abundantly clear that the EU wouldn’t concede on anything at all, but ensured that he got concession after concession after concession out of the UK government. He’s now really been caught blindsided by his own negotiating strategy. At a guess he’s trying to save face.

    Sputnik: How do you see these negotiations going over the past 18 months and what do you make of the positions of both sides and the differences between them regarding the future relationship and obviously, the issues with the Northern Ireland border that the EU want ratified?

    Diane James: I think the EU has played a very, very strong negotiating strategy from the outset. They’ve not deviated from their position at all, they’ve not given any ground whatsoever. I think regretfully the UK government hasn’t been particularly well positioned and hasn’t taken a very, very, shall we say, good strategy along the lines. We, being the United Kingdom seem to have been on the back foot the whole time. We seem to have offered up lots of aspects to try and get the negotiations moving and of course, that’s played very nicely to the EU’s position. The Northern Ireland border, right from the outset the EU identified what it thought were the absolute key areas that it could corner the United Kingdom on and the border between Northern Ireland and Eire was one, Gibraltar is another. We all know about the red lines and such.

    Sputnik: What do you make of this whole situation about the possibility of coming out of the EU with a no deal? What impact do you think this would have on the UK?

    Diane James: I’m actually very pro a no deal because I believe in the famous phrase that no deal is better than a poor deal. At the moment I’m not a supporter of the Chequers deal that Theresa May has developed. I have got no issue at all with what I call a clean Brexit. That’s what we voted for as a population, that’s what the 4% margin was all about. If it means we are trading on WTO terms, if we got the freedom of being out of European Court of Justice Jurisdiction, if it means we can do a lot more without having to constantly look over our shoulders as a country and make sure we are abiding by the alignment we’ve got with EU regulations. I think that is a series of real positives.

    The views expressed in this article are those of the speaker, and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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