German MEP says Boris Johnson has 'been lying to the UK' over Brexit

21 October 2020, 15:12

By Maddie Goodfellow

German MEP Theresa Reintke has criticised Boris Johnson for his actions over Brexit, telling him to 'take responsibility' and not 'lie to the people of the UK'.

The MEP Theresa Reintke made an impassioned plea to Boris Johnson in the European parliament, telling him to return to the negotiating table, “stop blaming others for your own actions” and “take responsibility” for Brexit.

It comes as talks stalled between Britain and the EU after Boris Johnson abruptly halted discussions.

He accused the EU leaders of seeking to impose “unacceptable” conditions on the UK and said there was no basis for talks without a “fundamental change of approach” from Brussels.

Downing Street stressed that if no deal is in place by the end of the year - when the current transition arrangements end - the UK will not return to the negotiating table in 2021.

On Tuesday, Michel Barnier said he remained "available to intensify talks in London on all subjects and based on legal texts".

But MEP Theresa Reintke said Johnson has “been lying to the people in the UK” and must “take responsibility” for his own actions.

The MEP launched a scathing attack on the PM
The MEP launched a scathing attack on the PM. Picture: PA

Speaking in the European parliament, she told MEPs: "I think it has to be said, Boris Johnson has been lying to the people in the UK.

"The £350 million for the NHS after Brexit, no customs checks between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, and then this 'oven ready' deal which basically just needed signing on the future relations between the EU and the UK.

"These lies have to stop. If we want to turn this around, truth has to be spoken.

"First, Brexit is a mess. Second, finding a solution to this mess is not going to be easy for either side. But thirdly, and I think this is important, there might not be a good outcome to this but there are many different levels to how difficult this can become.

"So Prime Minister stop blaming others for your own actions, take responsibility and come back to the negotiation table and avoid the worst outcome for the people in the UK.

"You owe it to them."

In a Commons statement following the conclusion of last week's European Council summit, Michael Gove told MPs: "The conclusions of that council reaffirmed the EU's original negotiating mandate, they dropped a reference to intensive talks that have been in the draft and they declared that all future moves in this negotiation had to be made by the UK.

"Although some attempts were made to soften this message by some EU leaders, the European Council reaffirmed those conclusions as authoritative on Friday.

"This unfortunate sequence of events has in effect ended the trade negotiations because it leaves no basis on which we can actually find agreement.

"There's no point in negotiations proceeding as long as the EU sticks with this position. Such talks would be meaningless and would take us no nearer to finding a workable solution."

He added that the government is making contact with businesses to ensure they have the information they need on new trade rules.

"Every firm will find the information it needs on new rules which govern trade between Britain and the EU on gov.uk/transition," he said.

"And today, HMRC is writing to 200,000 traders that do business with the EU to reinforce their understanding of the new customs and tax rules.

"We're also putting in place new IT systems to help goods flow across borders, we're giving business access to customs professionals to help with new ways of working and we've also planned how to fast-track vital goods in the first few weeks to get round EU bureaucracies."

On Tuesday, the Government suffered a significant defeat in the House of Lords over a controversial new Brexit bill critics say breaks international law.

Members backed a "regret" amendment by 395 votes to 169, condemning the provocative move by the Government and warning the UK Internal Market Bill "would undermine the rule of law and damage the reputation of the United Kingdom".

Peers are preparing for a showdown between the unelected chamber and MPs in the House of Commons over the bill, prompting concerns that it could create a "parliamentary ping pong" - where legislation is passed repeatedly between the two Houses.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, former Commons speaker Baroness Boothroyd and Conservative former leader Lord Howard were among many in the Lords to criticise the Bill, which has already cleared the Commons despite opposition from several senior Tory MPs.

The legislation sets out the way that trade will work between the UK and EU once it leaves the Single Market and Customs Union.

However, it also contains powers which gives ministers the opportunity to override the Brexit divorce deal, something the Government has acknowledged would breach international law.

A compromise reached in the Commons to head off a Tory backbench rebellion, which gives MPs a vote before the powers can be used, has been dismissed by some peers.