Germany and France brushed aside comments from British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson suggesting there was no link between the EU's principle of free movement and access to its single market, saying they could send Johnson a copy of the Lisbon Treaty and even travel to London to explain it to him in English.
Johnson, a leading Brexit advocate who is known for his colorful language, told Sky News television on Thursday that the EU's position that there was an automatic trade-off between what access to the single market and free movement was "complete baloney."
Asked about the remarks at a news conference in Berlin, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and his French counterpart Michel Sapin shot glances at each other before the German host responded.
"We just looked at each other because we're used to respecting foreign ministers a lot," Schaeuble said.
"If we need to do more, we will gladly send her majesty's foreign minister a copy of the Lisbon Treaty. Then he can read that there is a certain link between the single market and the four core principles in Europe," he added.
"I can also say it in English. So if clarification is necessary we can pay a visit and explain this to him in good English," Schaeuble said.
Sapin, in a French twist on Johnson's "baloney" jibe, said: "There are four freedoms and they cannot be separated. So if we want to make good European paté then there are four freedoms that together make up the paté in question."