June 8, 2018 / 2:44 PM / 4 months ago

'Respect your own red lines' Barnier tells 'paradoxical' UK ministers

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Britain does not respect its own red lines in talks with the European Union about the country’s withdrawal from the bloc, the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said on Friday, responding to comments by British foreign secretary Boris Johnson.

FILE PHOTO: Michel Barnier, the European Union's chief Brexit negotiator speaks to media after arriving to attend a discussion with business stakeholders and cross-border groups and companies in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, May 1, 2018. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne/File Photo

Johnson, in comments taped secretly during a dinner on Wednesday evening, had warned there could be a Brexit meltdown while adding that U.S. President Donald Trump would have taken a tougher stance in the separation talks.

“The only thing I can say is, very calmly and in all seriousness — and I say this to Boris Johnson, as well as the other ministers who have questions and who put together all sorts of proposals that surprise us, that appear paradoxical,” Barnier told a news conference in Brussels.

“Sometimes I sense in those proposals some sort of nostalgia at the moment of leaving the European Union, since you want to stay everywhere without ever again respecting the regulatory framework,” Barnier added.

“We respect Britain’s red lines. I’d wish the British would respect their own red lines too,” Barnier said.

Barnier added that an economic arrangement to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland could not be extended to the whole of Britain, as London has proposed.

Sterling deepened losses on Friday after Barnier’s comments, falling further to $1.3356 [GBP=D3], half a percent lower.

Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; Editing by Catherine Evans

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