Friday

19th Jan 2018

EU denies trolling UK with Blair meeting

  • Blair (l) and Juncker (r) in January. (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

The European Commission has said there was “no conspiracy” in its decision to meet Tony Blair, a divisive British figure, during the next round of Brexit talks.

Blair, a former British PM who is campaigning against Brexit, will meet EU Commission chief Jean Claude Juncker for a “tete-a-tete” in Brussels on Thursday (31 August).

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  • Davis (l) could bump into Blair on Thursday. (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

British officials will be there at the same time in what is to be the fourth day of the exit negotiations.

A Commission spokesman said on Friday that “current issues in European politics … may feature” in the Juncker-Blair meeting, alluding to Brexit.

He said they would also discuss the Middle East and Libya.

Blair, from the opposition Labour party, led the UK into the Iraq war in 2003. He once vied to become EU Council chief, then became a UN envoy to the Middle East and a private lobbyist.

He caused controversy in July by saying he had had secret “conversations” with senior figures in Europe on how it was “absolutely necessary” to stop Brexit.

Nigel Farage, a British nationalist MEP, accused him of trying to sabotage the process on Friday (25 August).

“Blair’s interference and desire to sell out our country never stops,” Farage, the former head of Ukip, an anti-EU party, told The Telegraph, a British newspaper.

The Commission spokesman said Blair was one of the many “friends” whom Juncker had made in his 35 years in politics.

He said Blair and Juncker were “very good friends".

Thursday’s agenda could see Blair bump into David Davis, the British minister in charge of leaving the EU.

The Brexit talks start on Monday (28 August). Last time, in July, Davis came to Brussels for the Monday and Thursday parts of the negotiations.

The Commission spokesman tried to dispel the idea that the Blair meeting was designed to troll the Davis talks.

“This is nothing extraordinary … no conspiracy theory there”, the Commission spokesman said.

The EU has said next week’s talks should cover citizens’ rights, the Irish border, and Britain’s EU-exit bill.

The UK recently published a series of position papers which showed that it also wanted to talk about trade.

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