Left leaps at chance to mock UK’s Brexit talks team

The Times (South Africa) - - WORLD -

DID Bri­tain’s Brexit min­is­ter, David Davis, for­get his notes? Or does he just have no ideas?

Pic­tures from yes­ter­day’s start of UK-EU di­vorce ne­go­ti­a­tions in Brus­sels showed Davis fac­ing his EU coun­ter­part with­out notes or pa­per­work. This was in­con­tro­vert­ible ev­i­dence, said left-wing crit­ics, that the di­vided May gov­ern­ment is woe­fully un­pre­pared for the talks.

Bri­tish me­dia and Twit­ter com­men­ta­tors pounced on im­ages taken as Davis and his team sat down op­po­site EU chief Brexit ne­go­tia­tor Michel Barnier. All three EU of­fi­cials had thick piles of pa­pers in front of them, whereas Davis, his lead ne­go­tia­tor and Bri­tain’s EU am­bas­sador, had none.

The UK’s en­voy to the EU, Tim Bar­row, placed a brief­case on the floor as he sat.

As Con­ser­va­tive Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May tried to si­lence min­is­ters who have briefed the me­dia on splits in her cabi­net, and on what they be­lieve the terms for Bri­tain’s di­vorce from the EU should be, news­pa­per crit­ics on the “pro­gres­sive” left let rip.

“David Davis has vowed to ‘get down to busi­ness’ and hit the ‘sub­stance’ of Brexit talks as a new round kicks off to­day,” wrote the Daily Mir­ror. “But there’s just one lit­tle prob­lem.

“The Tory Brexit sec­re­tary has been pic­tured sit­ting down for ne­go­ti­a­tions in Brus­sels ... with­out any notes.”

Barnier, a for­mer French cabi­net min­is­ter, who was flanked at the ta­ble by his Ger­man deputy Sabine Weyand and French strat­egy chief Stephanie Riso, has urged the Bri­tish to give more de­tail on what they want, more than a year af­ter they voted for Brexit.

“Per­haps they have amaz­ing mem­o­ries, or per­haps they’ve hid­den the pa­per­work un­der the desk,” wrote Bri­tain’s left-lean­ing The Guardian.

“Al­ter­na­tively, this could be an in­di­ca­tion that all those EU com­plaints about the UK gov­ern­ment not know­ing what it wants from the talks are not en­tirely un­founded.” —

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