BERLIN • German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said he was ready to give Mr Boris Johnson a refresher on the European Union's principles after the British Foreign Secretary dismissed a key sticking point on Brexit as "baloney".
With talks on Britain's future relationship with the EU yet to begin, the bloc's other 27 governments say Britain needs to accept the right of EU citizens to freely enter the country if it wants access to the EU market, including for Britain-based financial companies.
"We'll happily send Her Majesty's foreign minister a copy of the Lisbon Treaty," Dr Schaeuble quipped at a news conference in Berlin on Friday, alongside Mr Michel Sapin, his French counterpart.
"He can then read about the fact that there's a certain connection between the single market and the four freedoms. In a pinch, I can talk about it in English."
Mr Johnson, a leading Brexit advocate, told Sky News television on Thursday that the EU's position that there was an automatic trade-off between access to the single market and Britain accepting the free movement of the bloc's goods, workers, services and capital was "complete baloney".
Known for his colourful language, Mr Johnson is no stranger to controversies.
When he said last Thursday that Britain was looking to start formal Brexit talks early next year, Prime Minister Theresa May's office put him in line within an hour of his comments to Sky News by refusing to back the timeframe.
Mr Sapin, in a French twist on Mr Johnson's "baloney" jibe, said: "There are four freedoms and they cannot be separated. So if we want to make good European pate, then there are four freedoms that together make up the pate in question."