Brexit: Nigel Farage meets Michel Barnier
British Eurosceptic MEP Nigel Farage says the prospect of the UK leaving the EU under WTO rules has increased.
Nigel Farage | Photo credit: European Parliament audiovisual
He was speaking after meeting the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier on Monday.
Farage, who helped lead the campaign for Brexit, has repeatedly said that UK Prime Minister Theresa May is “too weak” in the ongoing EU divorce talks.
After meeting Barnier, Farage said, “Who is in there representing the views of the 17.4 million people (who voted for Brexit)? Nobody.”
In the 2016 referendum, 51.9 per cent, or 17.4 million people, voted to leave the EU while 48.1 per cent, or 16.1 million people, voted to stay. May has said Britain will leave the EU on 29 March 2019 and the EU and Britain are discussing the terms of the divorce.
Farage, the former leader of Ukip, described the 40 minute exchange with Barnier as “cordial.”
But, he added, “Barnier clearly did not understand why Brexit happened. I left with the impression that it has not been previously explained to him that the Brexit vote was primarily about controlling mass immigration and democratic self-determination.”
Farage went on, “Unless he can compromise somewhat and be prepared to give on services and financial services, the calls to go out of the EU under WTO rules will increase.”
Farage requested the meeting back in October after Barnier met several Remainers such as Nick Clegg, Lord Adonis and Ken Clarke.
The meeting at the Commission’s Berlaymont HQ in Brussels comes after it emerged on Sunday that more than 2300 EU academics have resigned from British universities over the past year amid concerns over a ‘Brexodus’ of top talent in higher education.
New figures show a 19 per cent increase in departures of European staff from universities last year compared to before the EU referendum, and a 10 per cent rise from some 2130 resignations in 2015-16.
Theresa May has urged EU citizens to stay in the UK after Britain leaves the bloc but prolonged uncertainty over post-Brexit rights has made some academics fearful for the future, critics warn.
A report from the British Academy has warned that the UK’s world-leading university sector could be under threat due to prospective changes to immigration rules after Brexit, with subjects such as modern languages and economics facing the greatest threat.
The institution reporting the highest number of resignations was the University of Oxford, which saw 230 departures of EU academics last year compared to 171 in 2014-15, according to freedom of information requests by the Liberal Democrats to 105 universities.
Maike Bohn, a spokesperson for the3million, which campaigns for citizens’ rights, said some EU academics feel “personally insulted” by the government’s sluggishness to guarantee their rights and remain concerned about what Brexit will mean for their futures.
Bohn, a German citizen who formerly worked at Bristol University and the Saïd Business School in Oxford, said, “I think we will see a time lag on this as I know lots of people who are waiting to see if it gets worse before leaving.”
A UK Department for Education spokesperson said, “The UK higher education sector has a long-established tradition of attracting the brightest minds from around the world, at all stages of their careers. We value the contribution that EU staff make to the sector, and we want that to continue.”
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