Viewed from Brussels, Britain is a strange beast.
The land of Churchill and Wellington, “Downton Abbey” and James Bond, gin and tonic, cricket and bowler hats.
And yet, it is also a place of lager louts and football hooliganism, booze cruises and Brexit.
A perplexing country: eccentric, anarchic and stubborn. But always — always — perfidious, no matter what they say about “fair play” and manners.
Former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson said of the Italians, when they say you’ve got pasta “check under the sauce to make sure.” If you could persuade anyone in Brussels to order an English breakfast, they’d no doubt feel the same about what is under the baked beans.
“It must be August. I seem to remember this story being written every year at about this time” — A senior U.K. official involved in Brexit negotiations
This is the context for the latest Brexit row: spying.
According to the Daily Telegraph, Michel Barnier’s deputy Brexit negotiator Sabine Weyand believes Britain may have bugged EU meetings and found a way to access confidential documents from the European Commission even before other EU member countries have seen them.
In October POLITICO reported that British diplomats in Brussels had reported back to their masters in London that Martin Selmayr — the most senior official in Brussels — was so concerned that British secret services are spying on him that he had resorted to taking hard copies of documents rather than emailed exchanges to avoid intrusion.