PRESS RELEASE - Brexit : Behind Closed Doors tells the gripping untold story of the Brexit negotiations... from the other side. For two years, Belgian film maker, Lode Desmet, has had exclusive access to the Brexit co ordinator of the European parliament, Guy Verhofstadt and his close knit team. This revelatory fly on the wall film captures the off the record conversations and arguments of the European negotiators as they devise their strategy for dealing with the British. At moments funny and tragic, the film documents how the Europeans’ respect for a formidable negotiating opponent turns into frustration, irritation and ultimately ridicule as the British fail to present either a united front or a clear goal for the future.
In the deluge of voices and opinions on Brexit, there has been a conspicuous gap – the European perspective. The twists and turns in the UK and Westminster have been endlessly reported but very little has been heard about what the Europeans think of us. This film provides the antidote.
``They came to Brussels with (Dominic) Raab and immediately Raab attacked and put in question a number of issues that were 100% agreed... There was a reaction of Olli Robbins to Raab saying `don’t do that, this is agreed’...so it’s clear now that in the British government there is no majority. I think it’s blocked there but in a serious way’’’. ( 15.10.18) Guy Verhofstadt briefs his team about the latest twist in the Brexit negotiations.
For two years, a Belgian filmmaker, Lode Desmet, was given exclusive access to Guy Verhofstadt, the lead negotiator of the European parliament – the institution that has power of veto over any deal made with the British. Verhofstadt was Prime Minster of Belgium for a decade before joining the European parliament . A flamboyant , experienced politician and a passionate supporter of Europe. The resulting film is an unspun account of what actually took place behind the scenes in Brussels- revelatory, indiscreet , funny and tragic.
The camera is there when the EU’s designated negotiator , Michel Barnier, comes to brief Verhofstadts’s Brexit Steering Group ; ``The EU delegation was well prepared. It seems to me, we can speak frankly between us, better than the UK. Which allowed us to set the tone and the agenda’ (28.06.17)
We eavesdrop as the Steering Group discuss tactics. Elmar Brok - Christian Democrat, Germany Brexit : ``We hear now all the time that because Britain is in a mess, we have to move a little to help them. That would be a tactically, totally wrong decision ... but the temptation to do so will become very high. I’m very clear we have to do nothing. We are ready and they have to come. And we have to wait while the air becomes thinner and thinner because we lose time."
We discover that the British press is not always accurate. Mark Rutte, the Prime Minster of Holland speaking at an intimate dinner tells Verhofstadt: ``I spoke with Theresa on Friday in close conjunction with the French and Germans ....In the British press it was reported that l would plead for some more flexibility which is not true... I will make clear to the British press ...that they should not listen always to the spin coming out of Downing St.’’ (19.10.17)
We are present as Verhofstadt’s team dissect Theresa May’s embarrassment in Brussels at the end of 2017 when the DUP, her coalition partners, pull the rug from under her deal : Guillaume McLaughlin, chief of staff : `` That she got on a plane to Brussels without having cleared it with the DUP. I mean what the fuck is wrong with her?,..I mean that’s insane! She’s there, she’s at this meeting so , the first question to Mrs May, `what does Arlene Foster think?’ `Oh l don’t know’ I haven’t spoken to her ... ...pathetic, pathetic!’ (04.06 17)
And we witness behind closed doors the frustration as time after time expected deals fail because of internal division back in the UK - like when Michel Barnier, the EU chief negotiator, talks about Theresa May to his colleagues in the Brexit Steering Group of the European parliament. :`We have a problem, we have a problem. Because , because she refuses a backstop now. She had accepted a back stop two times, in December and March by letter, eh. And now she refuses to put a back stop.’ (16.10.18)