THE EU's former chief Brexit negotiator has remarked on 'good' European and Scottish relations during a visit to Skye.

Michel Barnier was walking on the rugged Scottish island when he came across a sign marking joint support by the European Union and the Scottish Government for a nature conservation project on the Old Man of Storr.

Mr Barnier was made the EU's lead negotiator in July 2016 and was at the heart of tortuous talks with the UK governments of Theresa May and Boris Johnson until a new deal was finally struck in December 2020.

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The French politician, 72, stood down a head of the European Commission's Head of Task Force for Relations with the United Kingdom in 2021 and lin August that year he announced his candidacy for President of France in the 2022 French presidential election. However, ultimately he failed to win sufficient support at his party, the Republicans' 2021 congress.

"On the path of Old Man of Storr in the north of the Scottish island of Skye... happy to find a lasting trace of the good cooperation between the European Union and the Scottish government…", he wrote on Twitter at the weekend.



His message was greeted by SNP politicians and activists.

Ian Blackford, SNP MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber, wrote: "Welcome to Skye Michel Barnier. Scotland will find a pathway back to the EU. That is our destiny. Thank you for your engagement and friendship with us."

Toni Giugliano, the SNP policy convener, tweeted: "Bienvenu en écosse." [Welcome to Scotland]

Speaking in London in February at a UK In A Changing Europe think tank event, Mr Barnier said that the door “remains open” for the UK to rejoin the EU, explaining how he would like the two sides to join together to form a new partnership.

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When asked about Britain’s prospects of rejoining the EU, he made it clear that that was a decision for the British people. He said: “It is not for me to give advice to say you have to join or not to join. It will be your choice, the choice of your leaders, the choice of your MPs. It will be your choice and your sovereign choice, exactly as Brexit has been the choice of the UK people.

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“The door on the EU side will remain open any time – for you and some others. If Switzerland or Norway were to change, the door is open. Everybody knows the conditions.”

He has spoken of his respect for Ms May but had little for Mr Johnson or his Brexit negotiator David Frost, now the Conservative peer Lord Frost.

“She always acted with dignity, courage and tenacity. That is why I respect Theresa May. We worked with her in good faith. But for the rest, what happened in the Tory party has been evident. These people sought to push Theresa May outside”.

In his book, My Secret Brexit Diary, published last year, he wrote: "During the time with Johnson and Frost, ideology took hold of the pragmatism of the UK."

Last month, Lord Frost came under attack from across the political spectrum in Scotland, including from Scottish Conservative politicians, when he called for Holyrood to be stripped of some of its powers.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, he urged Tory ministers, "if re-elected", to begin to "review and roll back some currently devolved powers" in light of the crisis facing the SNP.

"We, the Conservative Party and the Conservative Government, have allowed this to happen," he wrote.

"It's time to fix it. Ministers should make clear that, if re-elected, they will review and roll back some currently devolved powers.

"In particular, Scotland does not need to be an independent actor on the world stage; it should not be able to legislate to disrupt free trade within the UK; and it does not need to have most tax raising powers currently available to it.

"These powers are embryonic, independent government powers. They aren't necessary to run an effective local administration, which is what devolution should be about.

"I hope, of course, that Labour might do likewise and drop its sneaking admiration for socialism in one (devolved) nation, but I am not holding my breath."