EU’s trade pick is no fan of Brexit

With Irishman Phil Hogan being nominated as next trade commissioner, the stage has been set for yet another potential Brexit drama.

Known for his tough negotiating tactics and not mincing his words, Hogan has repeatedly warned of the negative consequences of a no-deal Brexit and lashed out against the British government’s handling of the negotiations, Prime Minister Boris Johnson in particular.

In his previous position as agriculture commissioner in Jean-Claude Juncker’s Cabinet, Hogan even had Juncker’s blessing to travel across the U.K. before the EU referendum to campaign against Brexit.

The stakes are higher now that Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen has proposed the 1.95-meter tall Irishman as the bloc’s next trade chief — a position that will see him front and center of negotiations on a post-Brexit trade deal with the U.K. (Announcing her nomination today, von der Leyen dubbed him a “hard and fair negotiator,” a reputation he has earned in trade talks with Japan and the Mercosur countries.)

During a speech at the end of August, Hogan gave a taste of what’s to come. Slamming Johnson as an “unelected prime minister,” he also said Brussels will “not buckle” under any pressure the U.K. government is trying to assert on its red lines.

“It is a definite advantage to have an Irish person in charge of this crucial brief over the next five years.” — Leo Varadkar

Leaving the EU without a deal will create a “foul atmosphere” and have “serious consequences” on the prospects of a trade deal between London and Brussels, Hogan said bluntly.

European commissioners are meant to stay out of national affairs and focus on representing the EU’s interests as a whole. 

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