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BBC Newsnight host Emma Barnett confronted a leading MEP over her criticism of the UK in the Brexit talks. The UK and EU are set to hold emergency crisis talks later today as tensions erupted over Boris Johnson’s decision to override key parts of the Brexit withdrawal agreement. Vice-President European Parliament, Katarina Barley, told Barnett that Mr Johnson’s decision to roll back the withdrawal agreement was a “disaster for the international reputation of the UK”.
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She railed against the “ridiculous” decision, prompting Barnett to call her bluff.
The Newsnight host said: “Why are the EU still coming to the table? Why an emergency meeting in London on Thursday?
“Or is this it, is this the end for the road?”
The MEP responded: “It could be. Boris Johnson’s motivation could be to make the EU the scapegoat of this whole thing.
“It was not the EU’s idea to have Brexit. The EU position has not changed since the very first day so why complain now that the EU is so hard on everything.”
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Barnett repeated: “But my question is, why is the EU even persisting at this point?
“If the UK is not to be trusted, if the UK has threatened all of that, and the EU’s position won’t change, maybe it is time the EU is honest and stop trying to do something that isn’t working.”
However, the leading MEP said the EU would not yet quit the talks, exposing repeated threats within Europe as possible bluffs.
Ms Barley said: “That is exactly what Boris Johnson wants. Maybe the reason for this strange move is to make the EU stop the talks, and then we are the bad guys.
“We still want a fair deal. We are not in a hurry.”
Earlier in the interview, she said: “Boris Johnson has previously said himself that the withdrawal agreement was a very good deal.
“When you have a deal, you can’t just unilaterally go and change it. I can’t really see the benefit of this.”
This comes amid claims that the EU could take legal action against Britain if the talks today do not reassure Brussels that the proposed new law will not break previously agreed commitments.
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The emergency talks today seek to resolve concerns over Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan to undercut parts of the Brexit divorce treaty.
This is a step Brussels has warned could scupper any chance of a trade deal.
The EU says it wants “clarifications” on the implementation of the agreement.
Brussels insists it still wants a deal but that the UK respecting the withdrawal agreement is necessary for this to take place.
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