The UK is so unprepared for Brexit that other EU countries think it must be a trap



Flags
are arranged at the EU headquarters as Britain and the EU launch
Brexit talks.

Reuters

LONDON — The UK seems so badly prepared for Brexit negotiations
that some EU diplomats are starting to believe that it must
be some form of elaborate trap.

The apparent chaos on the British side has alarmed diplomats from
European countries who are used to British governments
being organised and prepared, according
to 
Politico.

One European diplomat told the site: “I think it’s tactics: They
are playing for time on purpose, under the pretext of chaos in
London.

“In September they’re going to swamp us with [position] papers on
the fault lines — exactly the issues where they know we [the EU27
countries] are divided”

Another diplomat added: “Do they have a strategy? Or are they
playing a bluff with the European Union? … It could be a strategy
because the British are always so organized.”

The UK government’s position on Brexit has seemed chaotic in
recent weeks, with Conservative splits over a transition
period
 after leaving the European Union,
the possibility
of importing chlorinated chicken
 from the USA
and continued
membership of Euratom
.

A former UK diplomat to the European Union
told Business Insider
 last month that May’s government
is handling Brexit talks in the “absolute worst way” possible.

“If someone had asked me… ‘okay what would be the absolute
worst way to approach this?’ I don’t think I could have done it
as badly as government ministers are right now,” Steven Bullock
said.

The chaos has led some EU figures to believe that Brexit may be
reversible.

Maltese prime minister Joseph Muscat
said last week
: “People who say the Brits don’t know what
they are doing are wrong. I have lived in Britain, I know the
British mentality. A non-prepared British government official
simply doesn’t exist.”

The EU’s fear is that a stall for time from the British side of
the negotiations would leave the EU team pushed into agreeing on
a future trade deal rather than a “cliff edge” Brexit.

A diplomat told Politico: “I think Ollie Robbins [Theresa May’s
EU adviser and the head of the Brexit department] knows very well
what he is doing, he is telling Davis to wait … By the end of the
year, the tables will have turned.”

An EU official involved in the Brexit negotiations said that
thoughts of a trap were untrue: “It seems to me, based on what I
read, there is no clarity on the direction in which they want to
move and it’s very difficult to implement a negotiating strategy
if you don’t have that clarity.”

The next round of negotiations are scheduled to commence between
August 28 and September 1 in Brussels, when progress will
need to be made on the divorce bill, EU citizens’ rights and
the Irish border.

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