Gloating EU politician says Brexit has been a 'catastrophe' for UK

Gloating EU politician says Brexit has been a ‘catastrophe’ for Britain and blames it for UK’s empty supermarket shelves, petrol crisis and truck driver shortage

  • EU politician Thierry Breton said on radio Tuesday that Brexit caused ‘real drama’
  • Blamed it for empty supermarket shelves, petrol crisis and truck driver shortage 
  • Breton has previously been critical of Brexit, wading into rows over fishing rights

A gloating EU politician has branded Brexit a ‘catastrophe’ for Britain and blamed it for the UK’s empty supermarket shelves, petrol crisis and truck driver shortage.   

Thierry Breton, the French politician who is also the European Commission’s internal market commissioner, said on Tuesday that Brexit was a ‘real drama’ for the UK.

‘Look at what is happening on the supermarket shelves, look at what is happening at the petrol pumps, look at what is happening with the shortage of nurses and doctors, look at what is happening with the shortage of truck drivers, look at what is happening in the construction sector,’ Breton told BFM TV.

‘What is currently happening is a real drama.’ 

Breton has frequently criticised the UK’s decision to leave the EU – last month warning Brexit was ‘supposed to boost Britain’s global standing’ but saying it has done ‘pretty much the opposite’. 

The EU Commissioner for the Internal Market has also waded into Brexit rows over fishing rights, vaccine production and blasted the UK for its role in a submarine deal with Australia. 

Thierry Breton has branded Brexit a ‘catastrophe’ for Britain and blamed it for the UK’s empty supermarket shelves, petrol crisis and truck driver shortage

People wait in a queue to fill up with petrol at Asda in Greenwich, South East London, as Britain experiences a fuel crisis 

Supermarket shelves in the UK are left empty amid ongoing shortages as a result of a fuel crisis and truck driver shortage

‘Consider that after they said they could regain prosperity, which meant to some extent that every EU national would be kicked out – at least a large part of them – well now they need to come back, because nurses are missing. 

‘There’s 100,000 truck drivers missing … It is what it is and we deplore it,’ he added. 

Breton also commented during the radio interview on the ongoing fishing rights row between France and the UK, which has granted fewer than half of the Jersey permits requested by French fishermen. 

He said the UK had shown ‘bad faith’ in dealing with fishing rights but said the EU was ‘used to this game now’. 

‘200 permits have been granted, so it’s moving forward,’ he added.   

France and the UK have been engaged in a months-long row over fishing rights.  France accuses Britain of violating the post-Brexit agreement by denying licences to French fishermen who have historically fished in UK waters.

But London says licences have only been denied to boats where skippers were unable to provide evidence of their traditional grounds. 

France has threatened to cut power to the Channel Islands, which rely on French electricity, over the row.  

France and ten other EU members have called for a common front against Britain over its handling of a row with Paris over post-Brexit fishing licences in its waters. Pictured: French fishermen empty a fishing net in the North Sea

In another of Breton’s foray’s in the Brexit rows in April, the EU’s internal market commissioner said ‘zero’ AstraZeneca jabs made on the continent would be shipped across the Channel until the company fulfilled its commitments to Europe.

He said ‘there is nothing to negotiate’ between the EU and the UK. 

It came after he boasted over blocking AstraZeneca doses from leaving Europe, claimed the continent had ‘plenty of vaccines available’ and said the EU would be able to offer one to every adult before the end of summer.

Mr Breton told the FT at the time that EU-made doses must be reserved for the bloc to make up for the shortfall, adding: ‘If [AstraZeneca] does more, we don’t have any issue, but as long as it doesn’t deliver its commitment to us, the doses stay in Europe – except for Covax.’

UK Government sources at the time described his comments as ‘disappointing’ and accused him of ‘not respecting lawful contracts’.

They claimed the only way to get through the pandemic was to find a ‘win-win’.

Breton’s comments forced the EU’s former Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier to try to calm cross-Channel tensions by urging his colleagues to end the vaccine war.   

In another of Breton’s foray’s in the Brexit rows in April, the EU’s internal market commissioner said ‘zero’ AstraZeneca jabs made on the continent would be shipped across the Channel until the company fulfilled its commitments to Europe

While in September, Breton also warned transatlantic ties were ‘broken’ after Australia scrapped a $40 billion submarine deal with France and negotiated a new agreement with Britain and the US. 

Breton said many politicians and citizens in Europe shared a ‘growing feeling … that something is broken in our transatlantic relations’ after a series of surprises from the Biden administration in recent months.

‘This feeling is unfortunately increasing,’ he told reporters in Washington at the time. ‘It’s not right to think it is just because of what happened last week. It’s much broader than that.’   

While in September, Breton also warned transatlantic ties were ‘broken’ after Australia scrapped a $40 billion submarine deal with France and negotiated a new agreement with Britain and the US

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