A Conservative MP who is a parliamentary aide to Boris Johnson has claimed that his Twitter account was hacked after tweets were sent to the EU’s chief negotiator demanding details of the UK’s payment obligations to Brussels.
The tweets by the foreign secretary’s parliamentary private secretary prompted surprise from observers, who thought they might embarrass the UK government with the third round of negotiations between David Davis, the Brexit secretary, and Barnier under way.
The legal commentator David Allen Green tweeted: “Imagine having your Twitter account hacked by someone who knew the difference between liability coming from a directive and a regulation ...
“So: the @ConorBurnsUK hacker is either an expert on EU law and/or the Brexit budget issue or someone with access to exact same papers and briefings on Brexit which, say, a PPS to a foreign secretary would have. Rotten luck.”
EU officials are demanding the issue of the UK’s “divorce settlement” with Brussels be settled before questions on any future trading relationship are addressed.
Downing Street sources have said that Barnier’s team should explain how they wish to calculate the bill before Britain discloses any further details.
The official account of Burns, the MP for Bournemouth West, tweeted at lunchtime on Wednesday: “@MichelBarnier why don’t you publish how you are calculating UK bill based on law ie treaty obligations and directives. Hard facts help.”
An hour later, Burns’s account sent the following tweet: “Britain pays her obligations. Why don’t you publish them based on law ie Treaty obligations and directives. Legal facts help.”
The posts prompted surprise on Twitter. Burns was accused of embarrassing the UK by taking to social media to criticise the EU’s chief negotiator.
Hours later, the MP deleted the tweets and claimed his Twitter and email accounts had been hacked.
This article was written by Rajeev Syal, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 30th August 2017 18.04 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010