Kicking him when down! Former EU chief Michel Barnier sends bitter parting dig to Boris

Boris Johnson resigns as Conservative leader

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Michel Barnier, former Brussels Brexit negotiator and arch rival of Boris Johnson, said the outgoing Prime Minister’s departure opened “a new page in relations” with the UK. Taking a swipe at his former foe, he said he hoped the new chapter would be “more constructive and more respectful of commitments made”.

He tweeted: “The departure of Boris Johnson opens a new page in relations with the UK.

“May it be more constructive, more respectful of commitments made, in particular regarding peace & stability in NI, and more friendly with partners in EU.

“Because there’s so much more to be done together.”

Mr Barnier joins gloating EU chief Guy Verhofstadt who expressed his delight at Mr Johnson’s departure.

The Arch-europhile and Brexit critic wasted no time putting the boot in following Mr Johnson’s resignation as Tory leader, tweeting: “Things can only get better”.

Mr Johnson and Mr Barnier had a tumultuous relationship after the pair were forced to work together to agree the UK and EU’s future relationship after Brexit.

Mr Barnier was at the negotiating table with the UK from 2016 until 2020 when he became the main negotiator of the Brexit trade deal.

In 2021, he was appointed as special advisor to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to oversee the ratification of the EU-UK trade deal.

Most recently, the EU’s former Brexit negotiator hit out at Boris Johnson for reneging on the Northern Ireland Protocol.

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Mr Johnson announced his resignation as prime minister this afternoon after he was ditched by cabinet ministers and many Conservative MPs who said he was no longer fit to govern.

Speaking outside his Downing Street office, Mr Johnson announced his “painful” resignation but defied pressure to step down now, insisting he planned to stay on as prime minister while his party picks his successor.

The prime minister’s decision to quit marks the end of a rollercoaster political career in which he led Britain out of the Brussels bloc and took the Conservatives to the largest election victory in three decades.

It follows three years of scandals, including anger over parties held at his Downing Street office during the coronavirus lockdowns, accusations of breaking international law over his threat to override parts of the treaty governing Brexit, most recently, his handling of sexual harassment allegations against an MP.

The Prime Minister said it was “eccentric” to change governments at this stage but “I regret not to have been successful in those arguments”.

A new Tory leader will now be elected who will replace Mr Johnson in Number 10.

Delivering a speech from a lectern in Downing Street, he said: “In politics, no one is remotely indispensable,” “I want you to know how sad I am to be giving up the best job in the world, but them’s the breaks.”

Mr Johnson intends to remain in No 10 until his successor is elected, but he faces resistance to that plan from within his own party and the Opposition.

He has already appointed new Cabinet ministers to replace MPs who quit as part of the mass ministerial exodus in protest at his leadership.

In a statement which was watched by staff, supportive MPs and his wife Carrie Johnson carrying their child Romy, the Prime Minister said: “It is clearly now the will of the parliamentary Conservative Party that there should be a new leader of that party and therefore a new prime minister.

“And I’ve agreed with Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of our backbench MPs, that the process of choosing that new leader should begin now and the timetable will be announced next week.

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