Cracks are appearing in Brussels’ Brexit stance, Nigel Farage has insisted, after warnings form European Commission president Jean Claude Juncker that the UK was planning a divide and rule strategy in divorce talks.
Juncker expressed concern that London may attempt to break EU unity in the tough negotiations by making separate promises to different nations.
Former Ukip leader Farage seized on the remarks as proof that the EU top brass were “worried and nervous” about how Britain could play its hand in the looming battle to hammer out an exit agreement.
Farage told the Press Association: “I am surprised that Jean-Claude Juncker is so worried about the British.
“From a UK perspective, I am pleased to see his nervousness.
“Up until now we have been constantly told it is going to be us versus the other 27.”
According to Reuters, Juncker told Deutschlandfunk radio: “The other EU 27 don’t know it yet, but the Brits know very well how they can tackle this.
“They could promise country A this, country B that, and country C something else, and the end game is that there is not a united European front.”
Prime Minister Theresa May is set to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty which formally begins the two-year withdrawal negotiation process next month, as long as the Brexit Bill giving her the power to do so passes the House of Lords.
The Brexit Department declined to comment directly on Juncker’s remarks, but pointed to a recent speech by the Prime Minister in which May said she wanted a “strong and constructive” partnership with the EU.
Meanwhile, former Irish taoiseach Bertie Ahern warned that Brexit posed dangers for the peace process.
“May seems to be switching her language. She’s saying not that there’ll be no border, but that the border won’t be as difficult as to create problems,” he told The Observer.
“I worry far more about what’s going to happen with that.
“It will take away the calming effects (of an open border).”
The intervention came as Tory MPs called on Home Secretary Amber Rudd to ease airport entry waits for Commonwealth citizens in order to help boost post-Brexit trade.
Jake Berry and more than 40 fellow Conservative MPs have written to Rudd suggesting changes to border controls such as a Commonwealth entry channel, and fast-tracking business visas.
Berry said he was not looking to ease immigration restrictions, but wanted the Government to take symbolic “small steps” to renew Britain’s ties with the Commonwealth after more than 40 years of being focused on the EU.