Syed Kamall, the Tory MEP who leads the European Conservatives and Reformists Group in the European parliament, said he believed the move illustrated a willingness among the member states to rein in the commission, which could be important further down the line. “I think we will look back at this week and just write it off as pre-negotiations and an electoral campaign,” he said. “I think if it gets bogged down you will see individual countries exerting themselves on the commission, saying: ‘Come on guys, we want a deal, we don’t want to be left on a cliff edge in two years.’ The commission has the time to focus on Brexit at the moment while individual governments are running countries but ministers will start getting irritated if they think the commission is being silly about it.”

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