The lifelong Eurosceptic campaigner is due to meet Barnier at the European commission headquarters on Monday at 11am (1000 GMT). Speaking on his LBC radio show on Sunday morning, Farage claimed the EU had not heard the views of 17.4 million leave voters and argued immigration was the main factor that had driven people into the polling booths.
“I genuinely don’t think Mr Barnier has heard the views of the 17.4 million people who stood up against the establishment,” Farage told listeners. He went on to outline his opposition to the government’s Brexit strategy of a two-year standstill transition period in which the UK would be subject to EU rules, without any decision-making power.
“We didn’t vote for a transition period, we didn’t vote to effectively pay the membership fee for another couple of years, but there are some pretty big issues we did vote on.”
His intervention underscores the pressure the government will face in fashioning a Brexit deal, despite the collapse of the Ukip vote in last year’s general election.
However, the Ukip MEP’s claim to be the voice of the leave campaign has been given short shrift by Barnier’s officials. Stefaan De Rynck, Barnier’s righthand man, told Farage to “tone it down” , noting that he was hardly the first to represent leave voters, as Barnier meets the British government “all the time”.
On Wednesday, Barnier is due to meet other leave campaigners, including Steven Woolfe, the former Ukip MEP who quit the party after being injured in a brawl with a fellow member in the European parliament. Digby Jones, the former trade minister, John Mills, chairman of Labour Leave, and John Longworth, the co-chairman of Leave means Leave, make up the rest of the delegation.
The leave campaigners, including Farage, requested a meeting with Barnier after the former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, the former Tory chancellor Ken Clarke and the Labour peer Andrew Adonis held talks with Barnier last year.
Farage has promised to ask Barnier three questions sent in by British voters after launching an appeal for topics on Twitter. The #AskBarnier hashtag attracted a number of pro-remain questions that are unlikely to make the cut. Speaking on LBC, Farage made clear immigration was his priority.
“I will talk about trade, but [also] the big picture stuff, why we voted to leave and what the key issues were that motivated voters to stand up as they did on 23 June 2016.
“There was one reason that motivated people who had never voted in their lives to go the polling booths on that day and, yes, it was the question of open-door immigration.”
Barnier will be in “listening mode” and does not have a fixed agenda for the meeting, according to officials.
Since the British government cleared the hurdle to move on to the second phase of Brexit talks in December, no dates have been set for the next rounds of formal negotiations.
This article was written by Jennifer Rankin in Brussels, for theguardian.com on Sunday 7th January 2018 12.36 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010