Guy Verhofstadt labelled Boris Johnson a “traitor” in an incendiary speech in the European Parliament as the EU and UK remain at loggerheads over Brexit.
Verhofstadt said the proposals put forward by Johnson last week were “not serious” and accused the Prime Minister of “pushing Britain” out of the bloc - referencing Johnson’s labelling of opponents of Brexit as “traitors” and “collaborators”, he told MEPs the “real traitor” was actually the British premier.
“All those who are not playing his game are traitors, or collaborators, or surrenderers. Well, in my opinion dear colleagues, the real traitor is he or she who would risk bringing disaster upon his country, its economy, its citizens by pushing Britain out of the European Union. That is, in my opinion, a traitor,” he fulminated.
Johnson's proposal one week ago was not serious. The real reason for it was to start a blame game, in which everyone else are traitors or surrenderers. The real traitor is he or she who risks bringing disaster upon his country and it's citizens, pushing the UK out of the EU. pic.twitter.com/h7DnkEllZl— Guy Verhofstadt (@guyverhofstadt) October 9, 2019
The comments will almost undoubtedly further enflame already hostile relations between Brussels and London. While Johnson’s proposed deal has been condemned and rejected by EU chiefs, Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission president, said he was working with the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier on a last-ditch solution and didn’t “exclude a deal”. For his part, Barnier claims the EU is willing to talk to the UK “24/7”, although concedes “we’re not really in a position where we are able to find an agreement”.
“The real reason this is all happening is very simple. It's a blame game. A blame game against everybody. A blame game against the union, against Ireland, against Mrs Merkel, against the British judiciary system, against Labour, against the Lib Dems, even against [Theresa] May. The only one who’s not being blamed is Johnson himself apparently, but all the rest are the source of our problems,” Verhofstadt stated.
Tomorrow's talks between Johnson and Irish leader Leo Varadkar are widely considered to be the last chance for a breakthrough to ensure Britain leaves in orderly fashion 31st October.