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EU threatens London with revenge over ambassador row as Barnier warns 'be careful'

Brexit has ‘exposed consequences’ of leaving EU says Barnier

Speaking on Thursday as he received the European Movement Ireland award, the former EU Brexit negotiator said the UK should be “very careful” after EU ambassador to the UK Joao Vale de Almeida was denied the same status given to other ambassadors sent by national governments. 

Mr Barnier said: “I know the spin of the UK authorities, speaking about the EU like international organisations, but we are not an international organisation.

“I hope that we will be able to find a clever and objective solution to the status of the EU in London.

“It would be wise in my view to for the UK to find a clever solution.

Former UK ambassador to the EU, Sir Ivan Rogers, told Playbook the “stupid” move from Westminster will backfire.

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Brexit latest: Michel Barnier said UK should be ‘careful’ over the EU ambassador row (Image: GETTY)

brexit latest eu ambassador uk joao almeida

Brexit latest: EU ambassador to the UK Joao Vale de Almeida has not been granted the same status as other ambassadors (Image: OXFORD UNION)

He argued the decision “demonstrates yet again that the Government cares much more about appeasing its base” than protecting its EU relationship.

Shadow Brexit Minister Paul Blomfield has written a letter to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab condemning the “posturing” from Britain.

Senior Tory Tobias Ellwood described the row as a “silly spat” and insisted the UK should be “better than this”.

Mr Ellwood, chairman of the Commons Defence Committee, said: “This is simply petty.

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brexit latest news sir ivan rogers

Brexit latest: Sir Ivan Rogers said the move was ‘stupid’ (Image: GETTY)

“(Joe) Biden commits to strengthening alliances and we engage in silly spats which will not help strengthen security and trade cooperation.

“We are better than this.”

Former Europe minister Sir David Lidington said he hoped the Foreign Office “doesn’t pick a fight on this”, warning that non-recognition could set a “bad precedent” for regimes that hate EU ambassadors speaking up in support of human rights.

A UK Foreign Office spokesman said: “The EU, its Delegation and staff will receive the privileges and immunities necessary to enable them to carry out their work in the UK effectively.”

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Brexit latest: Tobias Ellwood said the row is a ‘silly spat’ (Image: GETTY)

But Brussels said the EU’s 143 delegations and staff in other parts of the world had been accorded a status equivalent to countries’ embassies under the Vienna Convention, which governs the rules of international diplomacy.

The Vienna Convention grants diplomats immunity from detention, criminal jurisdiction and taxation.

But Whitehall sources insisted that international organisations were offered “very similar privileges and immunities” to diplomatic missions sent by foreign governments.

The UK is continuing to negotiate with the EU over the long-term arrangements for the delegation.

brexit news key moments led to UK exit

Brexit news: Key moments that led to the UK’s exit from the EU (Image: EXPRESS)

European Commission spokesman Peter Stano said the UK, which, as a member of the EU, was a signature to the Lisbon Treaty which established the European External Action Service diplomatic network, was “well aware of the EU’s status in external relations”.

“Nothing has changed since the UK’s exit from the European Union to justify any change in stance on the UK’s part,” he said.

“The EU’s status in external relations and its subsequent diplomatic status is amply recognised by countries and international organisations around the world, and we expect the United Kingdom to treat the EU Delegation accordingly and without delay.”

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Brexit latest: Peter Stano said ‘nothing has changed’ since Brexit over ambassadors’ statuses (Image: GETTY)

He said granting reciprocal treatment based on the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations is “standard practice” between equal partners and we are “confident that we can clear this issue with our friends in London in a satisfactory manner”.

Mr Stano added: “The European Union has 143 Delegations, equivalent to diplomatic missions, around the world.

“Without exception, all host states have accepted to grant these delegations and their staff a status equivalent to that of diplomatic missions of states under the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations, and the UK is well aware of this fact.”

The dispute with Brussels came as the Foreign Office announced Lindsay Croisdale-Appleby would be the new head of the UK’s mission to the EU, replacing Sir Tim Barrow as ambassador.

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