Barnier FINALLY says the EU will offer Britain a unique deal on Brexit

Brexit breakthrough sends the pound soaring as Barnier FINALLY says the EU will offer Britain a unique deal after months of stalemate – but warns he still will not allow ‘a la carte’ choice from the single market

  • Michel Barnier hinted at a climbdown on Brexit following talks in Berlin today  
  • He admitted Britain would be able to get a unique deal from Brussels  
  • Intervention sent the pound sharply higher against both the dollar and the euro   
  • Concession came as Dominic Raab said the Brexit deal could be delayed  
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EU negotiator Michel Barnier finally conceded he would have to offer Britain a unique deal on Brexit today in the first hint of a climb down from Brussels.

In remarks that sent the pound soaring up against the euro and the dollar, Mr Barnier promised a ‘partnership with Britain such as has never been with any other third country’.

Mr Barnier has repeatedly insisted Britain must choose from an existing model used by either Norway or Canada – deal the UK say are unacceptable.

The Brussels chief still insists Britain cannot have an ‘a la carte’ choice of benefits from the EU single market. 

The intervention is a significant boost for Theresa May who has spent the summer trying to win support in EU capitals for her Brexit blueprint.

Her Chequers plan – which triggered the resignation of Boris Johnson and David Davis in July – had been rejected in previous statements by EU leaders. 


EU negotiator Michel Barnier (pictured today in Berlin) has finally conceded he would have to offer Britain a unique deal on Brexit today in the first hint of a climbdown from Brussels


In remarks that sent the pound soaring up against the euro and the dollar, Mr Barnier promised a ‘partnership with Britain such as has never been with any other third country’

Mr Barnier told reporters in Berlin: ‘We are prepared to offer Britain a partnership such as there never has been with any other third country.

‘We respect Britain’s red lines scrupulously. In return, they must respect what we are.

‘Single market means single market … There is no single market a la carte.’

The remarks appear to be a significant departure from the EU position, echoed as recently as Monday by French President Emmanuel Macron. 

Government sources said they would look at the comments but played down the shift, suggesting Mr Barnier had made ‘similar’ remarks before. 

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In other developments today, Dominic Raab admitted that a Brexit deal could be delayed until after the October deadline – amid fears the UK could crash out without an agreement.

The new Brexit Secretary insisted that ministers are ‘ambitious’ and still optimistic a deal can be done with Brussels.

But he said that finalising the agreement could ‘creep beyond’ the EU summit on October 18 and 19, which has been the deadline for the talks.

His remarks, made in front of the House of Lords select committee on the EU, is the first time a minister involved in talks has publicly admitted the deadline could slip. 

Mr Raab made the admission as he called for the EU to match the UK’s energy in coming up with a deal for the crunch talks.


The new Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab (pictured at the Lords select committee today) said a deal could be delayed until after October this year but insisted that ministers are ‘ambitious’ and still optimistic a deal can be done with Brussels

He said: ‘It’s important as we enter the final phase of the negotiations to the lead up to the October council and the possibility that it may creep beyond that, we want to see some renewed energy. 

What is in Theresa May’s Brexit blueprint?

These are some of the key features of the Chequers plan being pushed by the UK government:

  • A new free trade area in goods, based on a ‘common rulebook’ of EU regulations necessary. This will require the UK to commit by treaty to match EU rules
  • ‘Mobility’ rules which will end automatic freedom of movement, but still allow UK and EU citizens to travel without visas for tourism and temporary work. It will also enable businesses to move staff between countries. 
  • Continued UK participation in and funding of European agencies covering areas like chemicals, aviation safety and medicines
  • A ‘facilitated customs arrangement’, removing the need for customs checks at UK-EU ports. It would allow differing UK and EU tariffs on goods from elsewhere in the world to be paid at the border, removing the need for rebates in the vast majority of cases. In theory this allows Britain to sign trade deals.
  • Keeping services – such as banking or legal support – outside of the common rule book, meaning the UK is completely free to set its own regulations. It accepts it will mean less trade in services between the UK and EU. 
  • Continued co-operation on energy and transport, a ‘common rulebook’ on state aid and commitments to maintain high standards of environmental and workplace protections. 
  • A security deal allowing continued UK participation in Europol and Eurojust, ‘co-ordination’ of UK and EU policies on foreign affairs, defence and development.
  • Continued use of the EHIC health insurance card. 

‘We are bringing the ambition and substance of our white paper on our future relationship, and also some pragmatism to go the extra mile to get the deal that I think is in both sides interests.

‘We need that to be matched. Obviously.’

He said that a deal is 80 per cent done and that ‘the contours of an agreement is there’.

He added: I’m confident that a deal is in our sights. We are bringing ambition pragmatism and energy and if it is matched as I expect it will be, if it is matched then we get a deal.

The chairman of the committee, Lord Boswell of Aynho, quizzed the minister on how delayed a deal may be.

He said: ‘You have indicated it could go a bit further than that – can we ask you to go a it further.’

Mr Raab said: ‘My starting point is March next year when we are leaving the EU and I work back from there.

‘We are aiming for the October council but there is some measure of leeway.’ 

His words are a shift in tone from the Government, which yesterday was still stressing that it is working towards the October deadline.

The PM’s spokesman said yesterday: ‘The PM has already addressed this. She has confirmed we are working to the October deadline and that remains the case. 

‘We are working to the deadline. There is a deadline the Commission set out and we are working to that.’ 

Mr Raab also played down reports in The Guardian today suggesting that the EU’s lead Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has failed to make himself available for face to face talks with him.

The newspaper reported that despite his assertion that he is available ’24/7′ for talks, Mr Raab had been left frustrated at his lack of meetings with Mr Barnier.

But the UK ministers poured cold water on the report today – insisting he has met with Mr Barnier several times and the two have a close working relationship.  


His remarks, made in front of the House of Lords select committee on the EU, is the first time a minster has publicly admitted the deadline could slip

Asked about it today, Mr Raab said: ‘In relation to whatever tittle tattle will appear in whatever newspaper, I’m in Brussels tomorrow evening for a long substantive meeting with Mr Barnier on Friday.

‘On a one to one level, we have established a good professional personal rapport.

‘I would say we have a good working relationship and the beginnings of a good personal relationship….and these things matter.’  

Mr Raab is making his first appearance in front of the Lords select committee since being promoted to Brexit Secretary in July after David Davis’ shock resignation.

Mr Davis quit the role in protest at Theresa May’s Chequers proposal – a compromise deal which would mean the UK sticks to EU rules for goods but leaves the  single market and customs union.

The proposal sparked outcry from Brexiteers and Tory activists who warned it would leave the UK stuck half inside the Brussels bloc  and hamper the country’s ability to strike free trade deals globally.

And the EU also greeted the plan with scepticism – and it emerged yesterday that Mr  Barnier threatened to boycott Brexit talks if Mrs May insisted on basing a deal on her Chequers plans.  

What customs arrangements do Norway, Turkey and Switzerland have with the EU?

Theresa May has insisted Brexit means quitting the EU customs union – so the UK can strike free trade deals with other countries.

But  this means that customs checks on goods will probably need to be carried out at the border – creating the spectre of long border queues.

Critics of the PM’s approach say the UK should stay in a customs union with the bloc to avoid these hard border controls.

Below are three customs deals the EU  has done with countries outside the bloc:

The Norway Option: 

Norway voted narrowly against joining the EU in 1994, but shares a 1000-mile border with Sweden which is in the bloc.

The Norwegian government decided to negotiate a deal which gave it very close ties with the EU. 

It is part of the EU single market which means it must accept EU rules on the free movement of people.

But it is not in the customs union – meaning it sets its own tariffs on customs coming from outside the EU and so must carry out border checks.

There are some 1,300 customs officials who are involved in policing the border with Sweden, and have invested substantial amounts in technology to make these as quick and smooth as possible.

They have IT systems which pre-declare goods to customs and they are developing a system which will allow lorries carrying pre-declared goods to be waved through. 

Norway also pays large amounts into the EU budget and is governed by the court of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).


Switzerland (border pictured) is not in the EU customs union – which means that checks on goods crossing over the border from non-EU countries are carried 

The Switzerland Option:

Switzerland is one of the EU’s longest-standing trading partners, but the  country voted against joining the bloc in 2001.

It is a member of the EU single market and has signed up to the Schengen area – meaning it must accept free movement rules and does not carry out passport check on other member countries. 

But it is not in the EU customs union – which means that checks on goods crossing over the border from non-EU countries are carried out.

The situation tosses up some anomalies. For instance, a passenger travelling through Geneva Airport can rent a car on the French side of the border for around half of the cost of renting it on the Swiss side.

Border checks are carried out on goods but customs officials say they use intelligence to carry out spot checks, which can be carried out several miles from the border. 

However, there can be long delays as goods are checked at the border.

The Turkey Option: 


Turkey(its border with Bulgaria pictured) has long eyed up membership of the EU and first tried to start the lengthy application process to join in 1987.

Turkey has long eyed up membership of the EU and first tried to start the lengthy application process to join in 1987.

The country signed a customs union with the bloc in 1995 – a move Turkey’s rulers hoped would be a stepping stone on the way to full membership.

Turkey’s hopes to join the bloc faded over the past few years and have been all but abandoned under President Erdogan after he instigated a major purge of political opponents in the wake of the failed coup against him in 2016.

Under its customs union Turkey must follow EU rules on the production of goods without a say in making them.

It also means that Turkey can only strike free trade deals on goods which are negotiated by Brussels.   

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