EU neogtiator Michel Barnier insists Brexit talks will begin hours after General Election result

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator has insisted talks will begin just hours after the General Election, adding that he is not aiming for a “no deal or bad deal”.

Michel Barnier also dismissed suggestions the UK would have to pay up to £85billion in euros as an “exit bill”.

He said Britain’s financial liabilities will be dependent on the methodology used, adding that the European Council will “work with the Brits, very calmly” to reach an agreement.

Mr Barnier’s remarks came after Nigel Farage warned the UK could walk away from talks by the end of this year because of Jean-Claude Juncker’s “bloody rude” behaviour.

The MEP and former Ukip leader said the EU needs to make “grown-up, reasonable” demands.


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Former Ukip leader NigelFarage warned the UK could walk away from talks this year (Getty Images)

Mr Farage’s attack came after European Commission president Mr Juncker said the Brexit process shows how “united and prepared” the EU will be.

European Council president Donald Tusk also insisted the conduct of the talks must “show the European Union at its best”.

He added that this must involve “unity, political solidarity and fairness towards the United Kingdom”.

Mr Barnier, speaking as the European Parliament discussed the EU’s negotiating strategy, said: “Our aim is to achieve an agreement.

“I certainly don’t intend to have no agreement, no deal or a bad deal. We want to conclude a deal with the UK, not against the UK.

“In fact, I very much appreciate on the UK side you could find the same spirit to reach a deal with the EU, not against the EU.”

Mr Barnier said he hopes to start the talks as soon as possible, adding: “The day after the elections that (Prime Minister Theresa May) has called for on June 8.

“Clearly, the fact that elections take place just before the start of the negotiations will give a clear stability and visibility to our UK partners.

“That’s what we need as well and I think that’s one of the key elements for these negotiations to be a success.”

Mrs May and her ministerial colleagues have repeatedly claimed no deal is better than a bad deal from the UK’s point of view.

Mr Barnier, on the financial settlement expected with the UK, said: “I’m pleased Mr Farage is here because he quoted me.

“Now, I’ve never quoted these figures. The figures will depend on the methodology that we have to agree on. It’ll also depend on the actual date of the UK’s exit.

“It’s not [me] who is going to set a figure. The European Council has said we’re going to work together with the Brits, very calmly, to find an agreement on commitments undertaken.

“I’m going to do it perfectly calmly. It’s not about revenge, it’s not about punishment, I’m simply going to look at the figures and facts and the commitments that have been undertaken – no more, no less.”

Relations between Brussels and London have been strained further by leaks about a difficult dinner in Downing Street attended by Mr Juncker, which reportedly ended with him saying he was “10 times more sceptical” of the likelihood of a successful Brexit.

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