Stephen Barclay faces Brexit backlash for ‘softening’ Boris Johnson’s stance on EU


The adverse reaction to Mr Barclay’s comments follows an interview he gave the BBC on Sunday, stating that the “very essence” of Brexit was to “do things differently”. The former solicitor seemed to soften remarks, then, made by home secretary Priti Patel and Chancellor Sajid Javid recently. Mr Javid categorically stated there would be “no alignment” with the EU after Brexit

Speaking to the Financial Times, Mr Javid said: “There will be an impact on businesses one way or the other, some will benefit, some won’t.”

His comments were echoed by Ms Patel on Sophy Ridge’s Sky News programme.

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Ms Patel stated the country “will be diverging” despite the fact it has been warned this could potentially impede the chances of a free trade deal.

She said: “There is no disagreement in Government at all, we are clear – we are leaving.

barclay-javid-patelMr Barclay appeared to U-Turn on comments by Mr Javid and Ms Patel (Image: Getty)

stephen-barclayMr Barclay is the Brexit Secretary (Image: Getty)

“We will be taking back control of our laws, our money, our borders. In terms of divergence, we are not having alignment.”

But Mr Barclay appeared to U-turn on the remarks made by the government, mere moments after Ms Patel’s statement.

Appearing on the Andrew Marr Show, Mr Barclay did not appear to agree with statements made by fellow members of his cabinet.

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patel-javidMs Patel and Mr Javid both made comments on Brexit in news interviews (Image: Getty)

He said: “We’re coming out of the single market, we’re coming out of the customs union. We’re not just going to diverge just for the sake of it – we need to look at where the opportunities are.

“But it is true we are going to have control of our approach to regulation and that’s the very essence of Brexit: that we can do things differently, particularly where, for example, there is innovation, there is new technologies, there are things where we want to move quickly.

“Brexit at its very core is that we will have control of our laws, our regulation and that is why we can’t be a rule-taker: we need to have that opportunity.”

priti-patelMs Patel spoke to Sky News on the government’s Brexit stance (Image: Getty)

sajid-javidMr Javid made his statement during an interview with the Financial Times (Image: Getty)

Guy Verhofstadt, the chief negotiator for the European Union, warned Number 10 last week that it would be “very difficult” for a deal to be signed if Britain did not commit to a serious layout of rules on trade and immigration.

He said: “I think both sides have an interest to be very ambitious.

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“But how far this will go is very difficult to say because it will depend on what the willingness is of the UK side to also comply with a number of standards in the European Union.”

What appears to be government confusion on the collective Brexit stance comes in the wake of Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, signing the Brexit withdrawal agreement.

leave-remain-euLeave v. Remain split the country in 2016 (Image: Daily Express)

Mr Johnson praised the legislation as a symbol to “move forward as one country.”

The final step is for European leaders to vote to approve it next week.

UK business groups, however, have warned that large divergence from EU rules could significantly worsen the economy.

Mr Barclay, however, insisted to Andrew Marr that the UK and EU could create a “win-win” agreement.

boris-barclay-euThe transition period with the EU is due to end in 2020 (Image: Getty)

He added: “We are going to publish our objectives for the negotiation and we will set that out in due course after the 31st.

“We start from a position of alignment but the key opportunity is that we will be able to set our standards, high standards, on worker’s rights, on the environment, on state aid as part of that trade policy.”

The new president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, however, has previously shared concerns that it would be “impossible” to reach a trade deal by the end of 2020.

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