British people should be educated about the real consequences of Brexit, says EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier

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The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator says he sees the talks as an opportunity to educate the British people about the “serious consequences” of leaving the single market.

In a series of inflammatory remarks likely to anger ministers, Michel Barnier said that divorce proceedings would be “an educational process” for the UK.

He said, up to this point, the British people had not come to fully appreciate what leaving the single market means. 

“I have a state of mind – not aggressive… but I’m not naive,” Mr Barnier told the Ambrosetti forum, an economic conference in northern Italy.

British Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, David Davis, and Michel Barnier (EPA)

“There are extremely serious consequences of leaving the single market, and they haven’t been explained to the British people.

“We intend to teach people… what leaving the single market means.”

Barnier’s comments came amid increasing tension between the EU and the UK following a week of talks in Brussels, after which he claimed there had been “no concrete progress”.

Brexit secretary David Davis hit back on Sunday, saying his opposite number “looked a bit silly because there were plainly things we achieved”.

He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that the EU was trying to play “money against time” in negotiations, was “frightened” and that the UK would not be bounced into agreeing a divorce bill deal.

He also dismissed newspaper reports that the UK had secretly agreed to pay a figure of up to £50bn as “nonsense”.

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