EU's former negotiator Michel Barnier: 'No-one can be surprised' Brexit contributed to fuel crisis

"Nobody can be surprised" that Brexit contributed to the UK's fuel crisis, the EU's former chief Brexit negotiator has said.

Michel Barnier - who is currently running for the French presidency - said national shortages of fuel and food products are - among other factors - due to the UK leaving the EU.

"Nobody can be surprised. The British government decided to leave the EU, to leave the single market, to leave the customs union. That means mechanic consequences," Mr Barnier told ITV News.

Michel Barnier says the UK government is partly to blame for the HGV problem

Mr Barnier added that Covid and global market conditions were also to blame for the crisis, but reiterated that the UK government choosing to leave the single market was a key factor.

"It is clearly the choice of the UK government and it is clearly the mechanic consequences of leaving the EU, leaving the single market means the end of the free movement of people," he said.

Many filling stations have run dry after drivers made a dash for the pumps amid fears a shortage of tanker drivers would hit supplies. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said pressure on petrol stations is beginning to ease, but Army tanker drivers remain on standby to deliver fuel if necessary.

Alongside commenting on the UK fuel crisis, Mr Barnier also said the EU and the UK must stick to the Northern Ireland protocol, and that both sides were "responsible for the stability" of Northern and the Republic of Ireland.

"I have nothing to do with Nigel Farage or Dominic Cummings."

"I think it's workable... if we avoid on both sides, any kind of rhetoric or ideology, if we put these checks and controls [in place] that Boris Johnson accepted, clearly at the right level".

Mr Barnier also spoke about his plans for the French presidency.

Earlier this month, he surprised many by reportedly calling for a referendum on immigration and complaining that France had lost sovereignty to the EU.

Some compared him to a Brexiteer - the very faction Mr Barnier clashed with as the EU's negotiator.

Was Brexit "the great illusion"?

He told ITV News: "I have nothing to do with Nigel Farage or Dominic Cummings, or the others.

"I just want - as a French politician running for the presidency of France - to understand and to answer to the problems of my country.

"One of these problems is the fact that the migration policy does not work at the national level for us and the European level.

"So we have to change some things."