Speaking a year on from the trade agreement he helped negotiate, Mr Barnier, whose French Presidential candidacy fizzled out earlier this year, claimed Brexit remains a “lose, lose” situation for both the UK and the European Union. However, former Brexit Party MEP Ben Habib said rather than complaining about the outcome, the Frenchman should ask himself why the UK felt the need to leave in the first place – as well as the attitudes of eurocrats ever since, which he said had fuelled tensions still further.
He told Express.co.uk: “I am half in agreement with Barnier. Brexit is indeed a lose situation for the EU. It lost its biggest captive client. It lost £12billion per annum net.
“It lost the most powerful military force in Europe. It lost from its inexorable march towards an anti-democratic superstate the mother of modern democracy.”
However, he added: “Yet things needn’t have been this way. If the EU had not set out to punish the UK for its democratic right to leave, we might now have a sensible trading relationship. Instead it sought to annex Northern Ireland and through that conduit subdue us.”
Turning his attention to the deals which Mr Barnier was involved in thrashing out, Mr Habib said: “The Withdrawal and Trade & Cooperation Agreements are awful.
“Signed by a politically weak British Government with no idea of how to exploit Brexit.
“But over time we will ditch these wretched impediments. Brexit is a process and we are on our way.
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The Christmas Eve 2020 deal put in place the arrangements for continued trade with the UK outside the single market and customs union.
Mr Barnier said: “One year later, Brexit remains a lose-lose decision.
“Yet I remember a great negotiating team and our daily work for the unity of the 27.
“The European project deserves to be defended and reformed with the same unity and the same energy.”
After the signing of the agreement, Mr Barnier published his diary of the negotiations and prior to his unsuccessful tilt at the French presidency.
Although the TCA meant the potential chaos of a no-deal Brexit was avoided, relations between the UK and EU have remained difficult.
Talks continue to try to resolve issues around Northern Ireland’s trading arrangements and the UK has been locked in a bitter dispute with France over fishing rights.
With Lord Frost having resigned from Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Cabinet on Saturday, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has now been handed his Brexit brief.
Speaking on Wednesday after her first call with European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic, she said: “We want a constructive relationship with the EU, underpinned by trade and our shared belief in freedom and democracy. Resolving the current issues is critical to unleashing that potential.
“The UK position has not changed. We need goods to flow freely between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, end the role of the ECJ (European Court of Justice) as the final arbiter of disputes between us, and resolve other issues.”
Ms Truss added: “We must pick up the pace on talks in the New Year. Our preference remains to reach an agreed solution.
“If this does not happen, we remain prepared to trigger Article 16 safeguards to deal with the very real problems faced in Northern Ireland and to protect the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement.”