The former Brexit negotiator said he doesn’t expect to wait long before Downing Street explores using its new regulatory freedom. But he warned eurocrats would be ready to clamp down on any move that gives UK firms a competitive over their continental rivals. According to his diaries of the negotiations, Mr Barnier says that any British bid to undercut European businesses will be met with the full force of the trade agreement.
His book – The Grand Illusion – was released today in French and is due to be published later this year in English.
In it, Mr Barnier claimed it won’t be long before No 10 is “trying to use its new legislative and regulatory autonomy to give itself, sector by sector, a competitive advantage.”
He added: “Will that competition be free and fair? Will regulatory competition … lead to social, economic, fiscal dumping against Europe?
“We have tools to respond.”
Mr Barnier has previously warned that Britain could slip below EU standards and fall foul of the so-called “level playing field”.
This could result in Britain being stripped of its zero-tariff and zero-quota status in the Brexit trade agreement.
The EU’s former Brexit negotiator suggested the bloc could punish the UK for reversing a Brussels ban on pesticides.
Mr Barnier singled out Britain for the emergence of a bee-killing pesticide used by sugar beet farmers.
In his book, the Frenchman also details various spats with Boris Johnson’s negotiation team.
He suggested the Prime Minister had opted for a “madman strategy” in the talks.
And claimed he was left confused by No10’s unpredictable approach.
On September 8, 2020, Mr Barnier wrote: “The team currently in 10 Downing St does not measure up to the stakes and challenges of Brexit.
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He wrote: “There are lessons to be drawn from Brexit.
“There are reasons to listen to the popular feeling that expressed itself then, and continues to express itself in many parts of Europe – and to respond to it.
“That is going to take time, respect and political courage.”