Nigel Farage, who as leader of the UK Independence Party was one of the leading campaigners for Britain to leave the European Union, crossed swords with one of his main EU adversaries. After meeting Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, for about 30 minutes in Brussels, Farage said he was convinced that the Frenchman doesn’t understand why more than 17 million people voted for the UK to leave in the 2016 referendum.
“I really don’t think he gets it,” Farage said. “When I suggested to him that it might be something to do with open-door immigration in the European Union he almost looked at me with incredulity.”
Farage, a member of the European Parliament, said he was left with the impression after the Barnier meeting that the UK and EU would easily strike a trade deal for goods.
But “when you come to the concept of services, or financial services, his whole appearance changes, and it’s just kind of ‘no, this isn’t going to happen’,” Farage said.
Farage’s meeting with Barnier is unlikely to make any difference to the negotiations on the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union. For Barnier, it was an opportunity to demonstrate that his door is open to politicians whatever their views.
Farage said he had requested the meeting after seeing Barnier meeting with a “never-ending stream of re-moaners” — the term used in the Brexit-supporting press for people complaining the UK should have remained in the European Union.