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Michel Barnier slams ECHR as ex-Brexit negotiator demands ‘constitutional shield’ to tackle soaring migration

Former Brexit negotiator Michelle Barnier has criticised the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), demanding a “constitutional shield” to prevent soaring migration.

He criticised the European Court of Justice, which oversees the ECHR, for reducing nations’ freedom to act in the name of national security and expanding migrants’ rights to bring family members, calling for the rewriting of European treaties.

Barnier said: “You can find nothing in the French constitution about migration, and there is almost nothing in the European treaties.

“For 30 or 40 years, there’s a kind of interpretation that is always in favour of the migrants…

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“We have to rewrite something in the [EU] treaties or in the [European Convention of Human Rights].”

He also suggested France should hold a referendum to decide migration quotes, saying: “We have to provoke a discussion at the European level…

“During this time, we have to create a constitutional shield [allowing national law to take precedence], and to ask the French people to decide.”

Issuing a warning, Barnier added: “If we don’t do that — as Brexit was improbable and happened — something in France which is improbable could happen: the election of Ms Le Pen as president.

“I’m the only one in France perhaps to know exactly why the Brexit happened.”

The same interview saw Barnier shoot down Starmer’s Brexit plans.

Asked about the Labour leader’s plan to negotiate a “better deal” with the EU when the Trade and Cooperation Agreement comes up for renegotiation in 2025, Barnier joked: “Good luck!”.

But – speaking to the Financial Times – he was positive towards the Leader of the Opposition, saying: “I think Starmer is a European like me — a patriot and European.”

Earlier this year, Starmer confirmed he is planning to renegotiate the UK’s relationship with the EU if he is elected.

The Labour Leader said he wants a closer trading relationship with the bloc, dismissing the 2020 deal struck by Boris Johnson as “not a good deal”.


The deal is up for review in 2025. Starmer said he owes it to his children to strike a new partnership with Brussels and rebuild the relationship.

Starmer said the 2025 renewal date is an “important” moment to reset relations with the bloc.

The Leader of the Opposition, who is nearly 20 points ahead of the Conservative Party in the polls, said: “I do think we can have a closer trading relationship as well. That’s subject to further discussion.”

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