Passionate Euro-federalist and leader of the European Liberals Guy Verhofstadt has been appointed to lead the European Parliament’s Brexit negotiations.
The former Belgian Prime Minister, who has notably clashed with Nigel Farage in the European Parliament on multiple occasions, will be in charge of dealing with Britain as it attempts to negotiate the best possible deal for Brexit.
He will join forces with Michel Barnier, who is leading negotiations for the European Commission. Although Mr Barnier’s role will likely be more significant, the final post-Brexit deal will have to be ratified by the European Parliament.
Mr Verhofstadt’s appointment will raise eyebrows among Eurosceptics, as he previously stated that Britain must retain freedom of movement, and said Britain should have a form of “associate membership” rather than leave entirely.
“The European parliament will never agree to a deal that de facto ends the free movement of people for a decade, while giving away an extra rebate in exchange for all the advantages of the internal market,” he said. “What would stop other countries from asking the same exceptional status?”
Previously in 2012, in response to a speech by Nigel Farage condemning waste in the European Union (EU), Mr Verhofstadt said the biggest waste was Mr Farage’s salary.
He also tweeted after the referendum that “Boris Johnson is ready to sacrifice the voice of 17m Britons to become PM of UK, or rather PM of England and Wales.”
After the announcement of his appointment earlier today, Mr Verhofstadt said it was an “honour” and that the position “will play a central role in an Article 50 deal and any future EU-UK agreements.”
Commenting on Mr Verhofstadt’s appointment, UKIP’s outgoing leader Nigel Farage said: “Guy Verhofstadt hates everything we stand for which should mean a much shorter renegotiation.
“Mr. Verhofstadt is a fanatical supporter of EU federalism even by the standards of the European Parliament.
“This appointment will no doubt speed up the UK’s exit from the European Union.”