Lord Sugar not convinced by British Brexit negotiators

Business tycoon Lord Sugar has questioned the competence of British negotiators involved in the talks to get a Brexit deal.

At question time, the star of BBC One's The Apprentice said it seemed they were politicians and civil servants who had spent their whole lives in politics and "possibly have no clue to negotiation tactics".

But Brexit minister Baroness Anelay of St Johns leapt to the defence of the negotiating team, praising their "great expertise".

She told Lord Sugar: "I can't say whether they would meet your standards on your programme on television but they certainly meet mine."

Lord Sugar, an independent crossbench peer, said: "It was the UK who made the decision to leave the EU. It wasn't the other 27 members asking us to leave.

"We are now trying to negotiate an exit with 27 entities who have no urgency or incentive to provide us with a good deal."

He asked what negotiating experience and skills those handling the talks on behalf of the UK had, adding: "Please correct me if I'm wrong. From my perspective it seems they are politicians and civil servants who have spent their whole life in politics and, with respect, possibly have no clue to negotiation tactics."

Lady Anelay said the UK's negotiating team was several hundred strong and "has already shown their great expertise".

Baroness Hayter urged ministers to accept amendments tabled in the Commons so we
Baroness Hayter urged ministers to accept amendments tabled in the Commons so we "respect and retain the devolution settlement" (PA Archive)

For the Opposition, Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town said that without changes to the Government's "land grab over what's coming back from Brussels that ought to be going to the devolved administrations", the Scottish and Welsh governments had said they would withhold consent for the withdrawal legislation.

She urged ministers to accept amendments tabled in the Commons so we "respect and retain the devolution settlement".

Lady Anelay said the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill was drafted to do precisely that by protecting the current constitutional arrangements.

She said it was important to achieve agreement on a "common framework" and insisted there had been real progress in discussions with the devolved administrations.

"We are all working together for the best of the whole United Kingdom," she told peers.

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