Barnier vs Frost: Douglas Carswell lifts lid on UK's 'extraordinary' Brexit negotiator

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Today, Mr Barnier and Mr Frost will mark the end of the first round of UK-EU trade talks. Discussions began on Monday, amid deep tensions over Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s threat to walk away from the negotiations if not enough progress is made within four months. About 100 officials spent the last two days locked in parallel talks across a number of sectors, including trade in goods, services, transport and energy.

However, the two sides appear to be deeply divided on level playing field guarantees, with the UK determined to secure the right to diverge from EU rules after December 2020 – the end of the transition period.

As uncertainty over the future relationship continues, former Ukip MP Douglas Carswell delivered his verdict on the man who will ultimately shape Britain’s future outside the bloc.

Mr Carswell said: “I met David Frost as a new MP when I happened to go to Denmark on a Select Committee trip in 2010.

“He was the ambassador in Copenhagen.

“I met this extraordinary man – who was the first and one of the only British officials who was clearly eurosceptic.

“He understood intellectually why Britain should be outside Europe.”

Referring to a lecture the special adviser made at Brussels’ ULB university in February, the prominent Brexiteer added: “His speech was spot on – a brilliant understanding of history.

Barnier vs Frost: Douglas Carswell lifts lid on UK's 'extraordinary' Brexit negotiator

Barnier vs Frost: Douglas Carswell lifts lid on UK’s ‘extraordinary’ Brexit negotiator (Image: GETTY)

Barnier vs Frost: Douglas Carswell lifts lid on UK's 'extraordinary' Brexit negotiator

Michel Barnier and David Frost (Image: GETTY)

“The reason why I became a eurosceptic is because I read a book about history and it showed that the reason why Europe was the number one centre of civilisation and innovation was because it didn’t have centralised control, like China or India.

“David Frost clearly understands the intellectual origins and rationale of euroscepticism.

“I was very impressed with his lecture and I was very impressed when I met him ten years ago.

“I think he’s doing a fantastic job and that he will do a fantastic job.”

In a recent report for Reaction, George Yarrow – Oxford University professor and former head of the Regulatory Policy Institute – echoed Mr Carswell’s claims, noting that in his speech, Mr Frost had exhibited “a strategic coherence unmatched in previous statements by UK officials or politicians speaking about the future relationship with the EU”.

He wrote: “David Frost offers clarity in relation to the negotiating objectives of the UK (other than speed in reaching the end of the transition).

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Barnier vs Frost: Douglas Carswell lifts lid on UK's 'extraordinary' Brexit negotiator

Britain’s top negotiator David Frost (Image: GETTY)

Barnier vs Frost: Douglas Carswell lifts lid on UK's 'extraordinary' Brexit negotiator

Former Ukip MP Douglas Carswell (Image: GETTY)

“In a key passage he says it is to establish ‘the fundamentals of what it means to be an independent country’.

“What does that mean?

“It means an agreement that is inter-governmental, not supra-national, in nature and that doesn’t trespass on a contracting party’s ability to determine its own laws and regulations.

“As he puts it: ‘We only want what other independent nations have’.”

The Professor ended the report noting that while it is yet to be determined how it might be achieved, the negotiator’s approach suggests that the proximate objective of having ‘what other independent nations have’ by January 2021 is eminently feasible.

Mr Frost spent most of his earlier professional career as a British diplomat.

He appears to have a lot of experience in dealing with French politicians such as Mr Barnier, as in 2002, he was promoted Economic Counsellor to the British Embassy in Paris.

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Barnier vs Frost: Douglas Carswell lifts lid on UK's 'extraordinary' Brexit negotiator

(Image: GETTY)

He was responsible for reporting and lobbying on all aspects of French economic and commercial life, together with its EU policy.

After that, he returned to London to be Head of the EU (Internal) Department and then Director for the EU in the Foreign Office.

In this period he led work on a range of economic and social issues, notably the resistance to the initial Working Time Directive, and the negotiations on the EU’s multi-annual Budget framework.

Mr Frost was also part of the UK’s leadership team during its EU Presidency in 2005.

He then left in 2013 to become CEO of the Scotch Whisky Association, a major trade association, but after Theresa May appointed Mr Johnson as Foreign Secretary in 2016, the former Mayor of London asked Mr Frost to become his special adviser.

It is therefore undeniable that Britain’s chief Brexit negotiator has, at least on paper, all the credentials needed to deliver a successful departure from the bloc.

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