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Outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May
Outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

EU expected 'Harry Potter tricks' but UK Brexit negotiators were 'running around like idiots'

Frans Timmermans doesn’t mince his words in an interview about the ongoing Brexit saga.
Jul 18th 2019, 7:25 AM 46,459 40

THE EU COMMISSION’S First Vice-President, Frans Timmermans, said British ministers were “running around like idiots” when they arrived to negotiate Brexit in 2017.

Timmermans said he expected a “Harry Potter-like book of tricks” from ministers, but instead they didn’t know what they were doing.

In an interview with BBC Panorama due to be broadcast later today, Timmermans said he was shocked by how unprepared UK negotiators were.

“We thought they are so brilliant,” he said. “That in some vault somewhere in Westminster there will be a Harry Potter-like book with all the tricks and all the things in it to do.”

Timmermans said his view changed after hearing then-Brexit Secretary David Davis, who later stepped down, speaking in public.

“I saw him not coming, not negotiating, grandstanding elsewhere [and] I thought, ‘Oh my God, they haven’t got a plan, they haven’t got a plan.’

“That was really shocking, frankly, because the damage if you don’t have a plan…

“Time’s running out and you don’t have a plan. It’s like Lance Corporal Jones (from sitcom Dad’s Army), you know, ‘Don’t panic, don’t panic!’ Running around like idiots.”

Facing the consequences 

In a separate interview with Panorama, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said Theresa May’s rejected Brexit deal was the “only way to leave the EU in an orderly manner”.

When asked what would happen if Britain leaves the EU without a deal, an increasingly likely scenario, Bariner said: “The UK will have to face the consequences.”

May’s successor, either Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt, is expected to be announced later this month.

Britain is due to leave the EU on 31 October. Plans are being made at British, Irish and European levels in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

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Órla Ryan

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