Brexit Committee meets Barnier and Verhofstadt – but only THREE Eurosceptics attend

Posted on Feb 20 2018 - 1:02am by admin

Members of the Exiting the European Union Committee met with both Mr Barnier and the European Parliament’s Brexit Coordinator Guy Verhofstadt in Brussels.

But many Brexiteers decided to miss the engagement, including Peter Bone, Andrea Jenkyns, Sammy Wilson and Jacob Rees-Mogg.

A spokeswoman for Mr Rees-Mogg told the MP “had some longstanding meetings in the diary arranged before this trip was set up”.

In total only three Brexit-backers attended the event – Conservative MPs John Whittingdale, Christopher Chope and Craig Mackinlay.

The meeting is expected to help the committee understand the European bloc’s stance on Brexit issues as the Committee oversee the process being implemented by Mrs May’s Government.

The group are believed to have discussed the terms of leaving, implementation and the future deal during their session.

Following the meeting, Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hothouse said: “Interesting to be in the room to hear Michel Barnier. Pretty strong stuff. 

“He says UK is wrong to assume that EU 27 are undecided/divided.”

The EU negotiator also met with representatives of the UK’s 10 biggest cities outside of London to discuss “how the shared interests of their cities, local communities and businesses can be best met in the lead up to and after Brexit”. 

Leader of Leeds City Council Cllr Judith Blake said: “Growth from the Core Cities will play a critical role to the success of the UK’s post-Brexit economy. 

“The UK needs to increase its productivity by giving our cities the freedoms they need. 

“If all our places performed just at the national economic average, it would put an additional £70-£90 billion into the economy every year.

“International evidence suggests that the most productive cities have the most power over spending on local priorities.

“Our message to Government is to deliver a domestic reform agenda that allows cities to take back control on issues such as skills and local economic development.”

Last month Labour MPs Chuka Umunna, Chris Leslie and Stephen Dought joined Anna Soubry and Dominic Grieve in a meeting with the EU official.

Mr Barnier is understood to be keen to hear the views of British MPs on Brexit as well as Government figures.

Ms Soubry said the delegation held “very interesting” and “very positive” discussions with Mr Barnier in which they made clear that MPs have a role to play in the withdrawal process.

And she said her group had learned about where negotiations are heading, with trade talks expected to begin in spring.

She said: “One of the reasons that we came over was to make it very clear that as parliamentarians we are not bystanders in the process of our leaving the European Union.

“And obviously we gave him our views and our concerns about the negotiations and the final deal.

“He and his team listened and he shared his views with us about matters, and those are, like some of our comments, private, but it was a very interesting and I would go so far to say, a very positive meeting, and I think I can also say that we learnt a great deal.”

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