Juncker questioned Davis' commitment to Brexit talks

By Alessandra Rizzo, Political Reporter
The President of the European Commission questioned David Davis' commitment to Brexit talks and his mandate to carry them out, new documents reveal.
Jean-Claude Juncker said the Brexit Secretary's "apparent lack of involvement... risked jeopardising the success of the negotiations" and expressed concern over his "stability and accountability", according to official minutes of a Brussels meeting.
The meeting between Mr Juncker and chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier was on 12 July, and both the EU and the UK sought to quickly defuse the row.A Commission spokeswoman said the situation had now "moved on", while a spokesperson for the Department for Exiting the EU said the remarks were "out-of-date" and Mr Davis had been has been "fully engaged" in the process.But the exchange illustrates the tension that has marked Brexit talks so far. The EU has expressed disappointment at the UK positions and frustration at what they view as lack of preparation.The documents came to light as the EU released new position papers on Brexit, including on the crucial issue of the Northern Ireland border.
Juncker questioned Davis' commitment to Brexit talks

Mr Juncker made the comments during a meeting with Michel Barnier on 12 July
MPs also began a heated debate over the Government's flagship Brexit legislation.The minutes of the meeting recorded that Mr Juncker "expressed his concern about the question of the stability and accountability of the UK negotiator and his apparent lack of involvement, which risked jeopardising the success of the negotiations".In an apparent reference to the Conservatives' loss of a Commons majority, Mr Juncker urged Mr Barnier "not to accept discussions at the purely technical level with negotiators who had no political mandate, while fundamental political questions still remained".
Juncker questioned Davis' commitment to Brexit talks

Tension marked out the last round of talks between David Davis and Mr Barnier
Mr Barnier is recorded as saying the UK "had not yet really engaged in the negotiations" and voiced concern that Mr Davis "did not regard his direct involvement in these negotiations as his priority".Minutes are routinely released for the sake of transparency.Asked about the comments, Mr Barnier said he had known Mr Davis for 20 years and had "cordial relations with him still and good professional relations".
Juncker questioned Davis' commitment to Brexit talks

David Davis and Michel Barnier say they have a good professional relationship
He said last month he had "paid tribute to his professionalism and the competence of the whole of the UK team".Mr Davis, speaking recently in the US, also pointed out he has known Mr Barnier for a long time.The Brexit Secretary faced a busy day on Thursday, trying to persuade MPs to back legislation to end the supremacy of EU law and convert it into domestic legislation.A spokesperson for the Department for Exiting the EU said: "These are clearly out-of-date comments and it is abundantly clear that the Secretary of State has been fully engaged and involved throughout the negotiations, in the same way as Mr Barnier."The UK has also made its approach to the negotiations and what our deep and special relationship may look like through a series of detailed position and future partnership papers."
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