United Kingdom

Brexiteers slam Irish PM Leo Varadkar over claim Britain is a 'small country'

Leo Varadkar is facing a furious backlash from Brexiteers today after he taunted that Britain is just a 'small country' outside the EU.

The Irish leader said the EU would have the 'upper hand' in post-Brexit trade talks, which formally begin after Britain leaves on Friday.

He warned the bloc would try to force big concessions on fishing rights for EU trawlers by exploiting Britain's 'weak position' on access to Europe's financial markets.

Leo Varadkar, pictured during a seven-way RTE leaders debate in Galway, Ireland, on Monday said that the UK would be on the back foot in trade negotiations as it is only 'one country'

However, Mr Varadkar admitted Britain was in a 'very strong position' on fishing waters while talking to the BBC. (Pictured in the Irish leaders debate in Galway, Ireland, tonight with Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald)

Speaking in Dublin about the trade talks, Mr Varadkar told the BBC: 'I don't think the UK has yet come to terms with the fact it's now a small country... I think the reality of the situation is that the European Union is a union of 27 member states. The UK is only one country.

'And we have a population and a market of 450million people. The UK, it's about 60 [million]. So if these were two teams up against each other playing football, who do you think has the stronger team?'

Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: 'The UK has the equivalent GDP of 18 of the EU's smallest 27 countries; is the biggest export destination for the EU; the fifth largest export destination in the world; has the third most potent defence forces in the world... 

'Small? Not really. The EU will be much smaller without the UK and our money.'

Mr Varadkar admitted Britain was in a 'very strong position' on fishing waters, which Mr Johnson has vowed to fully reclaim after Brexit.

But the Irish PM warned the bloc could downgrade the City of London's access to financial markets to bounce the UK into allowing EU trawlers in its waters. 

He said: 'If financial services and entertainment... are cut off from the single market, the European market, that will be a very severe blow to the British economy. So, you may have to make concessions in areas like fishing.'

Boris Johnson signs the EU Withdrawal Agreement inside Downing Street. The UK is set to leave the EU in four days time

Leo Varadkar pictured meeting with Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, ahead of a meeting at Government Buildings in Dublin today

Trawlers from France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Ireland, Sweden, Germany and Spain rely on access to UK waters and their fishing industries could collapse if it is withdrawn. EU diplomats say the bloc is ready to play hardball over the issue.

But the Prime Minister's official spokesman said: 'We are going to be taking back control of our own fishing waters. The EU should be in no doubt about our determination on that issue.'

The leaked documents also reveal demands for the European Court of Justice to have jurisdiction over trade disputes to 'ensure consistent interpretation of the agreement'. 

Underlining that Brussels will order Britain to stay aligned to its rules and regulations as part of a trade deal, Mr Varadkar added: 'There's a genuine concern across the European Union, that part of the motivation behind Brexit was for the UK to undercut us in terms of environmental standards, labour standards, product standards, food standards, all of those things.'

A source said it had always been clear that the post was a 'time-limited job'.

Brexiteer fury as EU demands its own Strasbourg judges have final say on any EU trade-deal disputes with Britain

by Larisa Brown Political Correspondent for the Daily Mail and Joe Middleton for MailOnline

Brussels is demanding its judges keep control after Britain leaves the European Union, it emerged last night.

The bloc is calling for judges to have the power to rule on any post-Brexit agreement with the UK.

According to an internal diplomatic document, the bloc wants the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to be able to enforce the terms of a trade, fishing and security deal.

Under previous talks, negotiators insisted that the UK follows the EU's rules and regulations in areas such as state aid and environmental protection - in a bid to try and prevent unfair competition.

According to an internal diplomatic document, the bloc wants the European Court of Justice (pictured) to be able to enforce the terms of a trade, fishing and security deal

But new unprecedented proposals, seen by the Times, go even further.

The proposals, briefed to European diplomats, insist that the ECJ must have a role in ruling whether the UK has breached any rules that it signs up to.

The ECJ is based in Luxembourg and rules on matter of EU law.

The leaked document states that the 'UK is a partner like no other', citing its 'geographic proximity... economic interdependence and connectedness'.

The document goes beyond existing free trade agreements to 'ensure consistent interpretation of the agreement and secure the role of the (ECJ) in this respect'.

It also states it is 'seeking inspiration' from the government's withdrawal treaty, which gives the ECJ a significant enforcement role.

This suggests the EU will make significant demands linking Europe's markets to judicial supervision by European judges.

The move - days before Brexit - was condemned by Brexiteers who called on Boris Johnson to 'walk away' from such talks.

Former cabinet minister Sir Iain Duncan Smith said:  'We have simply got to say no,' he said. 'Nobody in their right minds would accept this and if they continue to pursue this then we simply have to walk away.'

The move - days before Brexit - was condemned by Brexiteers who called on Boris Johnson to 'walk away' from such talks

Downing Street sources also rejected the proposal.

A source told the newspaper that the European court was 'by very definition not a neutral arbiter'.

It comes as the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier said the UK's insistence on moving away from Brussels-made laws and the scrutiny of its judges meant trade without some form of customs checks was 'impossible'.

Speaking in Belfast, he said: 'The UK has chosen to become a third country, to leave the single market and the customs union, to leave behind the EU's framework of common rules, common supervision and common Court of Justice.

'It has chosen to create two regulatory spaces. This makes frictionless trade impossible. It makes checks indispensable.'

In further comments that will be set to worry Brexiteers, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar also indicated that Brussels would look for concessions on fishing in exchange for the UK's financial services industry to have better access to the European single market. 

The Vote Leave campaign vowed that Britain would be able to have control of who fishes in UK territorial waters upon leaving the EU and the common fisheries policy (CFP).

At present, the CFP dictates how much British fishermen can catch and where, and fishermen have often complained they do not get a fair share of what is caught in UK waters.

The Taoiseach told the BBC: 'What happens in these things is trade offs.

'You may have to make concessions in areas like fishing in order to get concessions from us in areas like financial services.'

Novelist Philip Pullman moans that new Brexit 50p is missing an Oxford comma… only to be schooled about its correct grammatical use on Twitter

by Lara Keay

Author Philip Pullman complained the new Brexit 50p coin is missing an Oxford comma - only to be lectured about its correct usage on social media. 

The 73-year-old novelist told his followers the commemorative Brexit coin should be 'boycotted by all literate people' because it is missing the 'correct' punctuation.

The coin reads: 'Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations', followed by Friday's date - when Britain will officially leave the European Union.  

He implied the 50 piece should instead read: 'Peace, prosperity, and friendship', with the Oxford comma used before the 'and' to make clear the three components of the list are separate. 

Novelist Philip Pullman, 73, (pictured) told his followers the commemorative 50p Brexit coin should be 'boycotted by all literate people' because it is missing the correct punctuation

But his intervention sent Twitter into meltdown, with users split on whether the controversial punctuation mark is used in British English and others mocking his complaint.

The His Dark Materials writer tweeted: 'The Brexit 50p coin is missing an Oxford comma, and should be boycotted by all literate people'. 

The new 50p coin reads: 'Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations', followed by Friday's date - when Britain will officially leave the European Union

Brexiteers on social media responded: 'Happy Brexit day!' and 'Still leaving' under a picture of Prime Minister Boris Johnson giving a thumbs up. 

One person wrote: 'I thought it was used after three or more' and a confused face emoji.

Someone else simply commented: 'It does not need an Oxford comma'. 

While someone else wrote: 'An odd hill to choose. The Oxford comma is unnatural, unnecessary and unliked.'  

The Times Literary Supplement's editor Stig Abell was another literary voice to condemn the lack of an Oxford, or serial, comma on the coin.

He wrote that 'not perhaps his only objection' to the coin was 'the lack of a comma after 'prosperity'', which he claimed was 'killing him'. 

The Oxford comma debate stretches back years, with fierce arguments on both sides. 

Those who condone its use claim it is essential before the final component in a list of three or more to separate each one. 

Mr Pullman implied the 50 piece should instead read: 'Peace, prosperity, and friendship', with the Oxford comma used before the 'and' to make clear the three components of the list are separate

Several were puzzled by Mr Pullman's use of the Oxford comma and others denied the coin needs one 

It is also important to separate elements of a list where one of them has the word 'and' included in it. 

What is the Oxford comma?

The punctuation mark, also described as a 'serial comma', is the final comma that comes before the conjunction in a list of three or more items. 

The first printed references can be traced back to writer F.H. Collins, who published it in his Authors' and Printers' Dictionary in  1905, before it appeared in the Oxford University Press (OUP), and became a controversial staple in the Oxford Style Manual. 

But many others argue it is unnecessary and not used in British English.  

The Brexit 50p piece was unveiled by Chancellor Sajid Javid yesterday. 

He said: 'Leaving the European Union is a turning point in our history and this coin marks the beginning of this new chapter.'

Approximately three million Brexit coins will enter circulation across the UK on Friday with a further seven million to be rolled out later this year. 

Mr Javid, who is Master of the Mint, was given the first batch of coins, and will present one to Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, this week.

As part of the launch of the coin, the Royal Mint will open its doors for 24 hours to let people strike their own commemorative Brexit coins.

Brexiteers on social media responded: 'Happy Brexit day!' and 'Still leaving' under a picture of Prime Minister Boris Johnson giving a thumbs up

But it has sparked uproar among remainers, with Lord Adonis, a Labour peer who has consistently fought to reverse Brexit, tweeted: 'I am never using or accepting this coin.' 

Meanwhile, Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair's former spin doctor, echoed a similar sentiment as he said he will ask shops for alternatives to the coin if he is handed one in the future.