The mood in Brussels can be confusing at times, as I wrote yesterday in Conservative Home. On one hand, we are hearing some very robust conversations publically yet quietly, behind the scenes, things are a lot more business like. When it comes to the public displays I think the best analogy is of two rugby teams on a field. They are squaring up and trying to perform the ‘Haka’ in the hope of seeing what the other side will do. Behind the scenes, behind all the bluster, I am encouraged by the more pragmatic approach which seems to be taking shape.
Donald Tusk’s statement last week was measured, matter of fact and avoided confrontation. Michael Barnier’s also set the right tone in his first major speech. I do not agree with some of the concerns raised about Barnier, having worked with him in the past. I’ve found him hands-on, willing to listen and methodical. There are always going to be problems. I’m not sure Verhofstadt’s approach in suggesting lines which the EU should take into negotiations with the UK, is entirely helpful but it’s going to be a long, hard process and we will see how the key figures and institutions interact with each other, on both sides, over the coming two years.
Our negotiators are ready and I have every faith in Theresa May’s leadership in this process.
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