The European Union’s Chief Negotiator has ruled out the possibility of a separate citizens’ rights stand-alone treaty as he says it’s ‘time for UK to take responsibility for Brexit’.
The comments were made during a meeting of the Foreign Affairs committee at the European parliament in response to a question by SNP Foreign affairs representative Alyn Smith, who expressed his ‘feeling of sadness and embarrassment’ over Brexit.
Smith said that “Too many people are a hostage to this process” and expressed hopes that separate agreements could be reached to guarantee citizens’ rights in case of a no-deal Brexit.
He said: “I and colleagues across the house have raised the question of whether in a No-Deal scenario, can we treat the Citizens’ Rights provisions as a stand-alone treaty.”
Michel Barnier said in response: “I do listen to you when you take the floor and it’s quite invigorating, but I have to say it is time for the UK to assume its responsibilities, this agreement is the only way to do that, having been done on an objective and legal basis.
“The decision of the European Council is trying to say that, either the UK approves the Withdrawal Agreement to leave in an orderly fashion – and this agreement is the only way to do that, having been done on an objective and legal basis – or it chooses to leave without an agreement.”
Tensions have been rising with the likelihood of a No-deal Brexit as MP’s appear unable to agree on a deal. Theresa May’s deal has been repeatedly rejected, even by members of her own party.
Speaking after the meeting, Smith said: “It’s always useful to remind EU officials that Westminster is not the UK, and certainly does not represent the millions of people watching in horror as the UK Government lurches from self-inflicted crisis to self-inflicted crisis.
“UK citizens are also EU citizens and as such deserve protecting as do the EU nationals who have moved to the UK and enriched our communities.
“People are not bargaining chips; the clock is ticking.”
The European Union has given MP’s till the 12th of April to reach a deal to leave, though concessions have been made that if another referendum is called or the material conditions of Brexit change they will allow further time.