Brexit: Leaked diplomatic dossier says Tory 'chaos' is undermining UK in talks

Jon Stone

Internal chaos in Theresa May’s Government is seriously undermining the Brexit negotiations, according to a leaked internal report drawn up by the Irish government.

The dossier, based on meetings between Irish diplomats and senior government officials in capital cities around the European Union, shows the low esteem Britain is being held in across the continent while talks sit in the grip of deadlock.

Leaked to Irish public broadcaster RTÉ, the document, which is based on diplomatic intelligence from the start of November, says that “chaos in the Conservative Government” has alarmed a number of European countries.

Boris Johnson and David Davis are singled out for derision and criticism in the report, which says UK ministers and civil servants are perceived to have been unable to agree on a coherent policy for Brexit.

A Czech minister is said to have told Irish diplomats that Boris Johnson was “unimpressive”, but expressed relief that the Foreign Secretary had avoided making gaffes during their meeting.

Two French ministers were also apparently shocked when Brexit Secretary David Davis barely mentioned Brexit during a meeting with them – despite the meeting providing an opportunity for Mr Davis to bring France onside.

Senior government officials in Latvia said the UK had made “a poor impression” and that “the biggest problem is the chaotic political situation in the UK Government”.

Swedish, Cypriot, and Slovakian ministers all expressed concern over the UK’s lack of a concrete offer on the financial settlement.

A British judge at the European Court of Justice, Ian Forrester, is said to have told Irish interlocutors that in Britain “there might be a slow realisation” that Brexit was “just a great mistake”.

The embarrassing details in the dossier come as the European Commission confirmed that President Jean-Claude Juncker will be meeting Theresa May in Brussels on 4 December, ahead of a crunch European Council summit.

However, the European Commission spokesperson blamed the UK for the lack of further formal negotiations before the summit.

Irish PM Varadkar has asked for more assurances from the UK on the NI border (AFP/Getty)

“On each occasion our British counterparts tell us what’s going to be happening in terms of formal rounds. That’s been the case on six occasions,” he told reporters in Brussels.

“In this case we have the European summit and if there’s going to be a round we’ll tell you.”

The EU has said it will not discuss future arrangements on trade and transition until three “separation” issues have made sufficient progress – Northern Ireland, citizens’ rights, and the financial settlement.

Of these, European Council President Donald Tusk said last week that EU citizens’ rights require “much more progress” in order for sufficient progress to be granted at a meeting of heads of state on 14 and 15 December.

Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, has given the UK one more week to make that progress so that preparations can be ready in time for the meeting. If the December deadline is missed, the next opportunity for sufficient progress to move talks forward will be a similar meeting in March.

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