The British government has sought to distance itself from claims by one if its own former top EU diplomats and negotiators that Brexit talks have not gone well because of infighting and rivalries within Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet.
Sir Simon Fraser was until 2015 was the most senior civil servant at Foreign Office and the head of the UK Diplomatic Service. He said said the British government has yet to put forward a clear position on what it wants from Brexit.
Mr Fraser, who also at one time served as chief of staff to the European Trade Commissioner in Brussels, said: “The negotiations have only just begun, I don’t think they have begun particularly promisingly, frankly, on the British side.
“We haven’t put forward a lot because, as we know, there are differences within the cabinet about the sort of Brexit that we are heading for and until those differences are further resolved I think it’s very difficult for us to have a clear position,” he told BBC Radio.
A spokesman for Mrs May said the government disagree strongly with comments suggesting Brexit talks had started badly: “The last two months we’ve had a constructive start to the negotiations, we’ve covered a significant amount of important ground.”
Mr Fraser, who advises businesses on Brexit, said: “So far we haven’t put much on the table apart from something on the status of nationals, so we are a bit absent from the formal negotiation.
“We need to demonstrate that we are ready to engage on the substance so that people can understand what is really at stake here and what the options are, so let’s move forward with that.”