Published On: Thu, Sep 28th, 2017

EU chief MOCKS May over Florence speech – 'She is at home in 15th century politics'

The European Parliament’s chief negotiator joked Florence’s history of “backstabbing and betrayal” perfectly suited the Prime Minister’s circumstances, amid rumours of discontent with the Conservative Party. 

Mr Verhofstadt drew gales of laughter as he mocked during the first moments of a speech at the London School of Economics this evening at an event titled: ‘The Future of Europe Post-Brexit’. 

He said it was “surrealistic” to be speaking about the future of Europe in London, the capital of a country which has vowed to quit the European Union. 

But he acknowledged it was no stranger than Mrs May travelling all the way to Italy earlier this month to discuss the future of Britain outside of the (EU).

The former Belgian prime minister said: “Prime Minister May gave her speech on Brexit in a European city, in Florence. And I can tell you: the citizens of Florence, the last thing they are going to do is leaving the European Union. 

“I know why Theresa May gave her speech in Florence. I presume that I know it. I think she chose Florence because Florentine politics in the 15th century made her feel at home I think.”

He said the city’s chaotic well represented Mrs May’s current efforts to finally free Britain from the political and economic shackles of Brussels. 

And he hinted at betrayal and backstabbing, subtly referencing rumours Tory heavyweights, Boris Johnson in particular, are unhappy with Mrs May’s leadership and were considering a coup. 

Mr Verhofstadt said: “You know, backstabbing, betrayal, noble families fighting for power and so on and so on.

“I think it is an environment that she recognised very well.” 

READ MORE: Who are the EU negotiators?

After the crowd laughed, he feigned mock concern at how his words might be taken by the British public. 

He said: “That is a joke! I say it for the press because tomorrow I see already the titles of the articles.”

READ MORE: What if Britain leaves Brexit talks with no deal?

Mr Verhofstadt also hit out at the content of Mrs May’s speech: specifically the claim the EU has never been a part of Britain’s story. 

He said: “British people, hundreds of thousands, I think even millions of them, they still cherish their European identity and they want to keep their European citizenship.”

The event was also attended by Sadiq Khan, who was granted a warm round of applause as he made his way to his seat at the central London event.

Daily Express :: News Feed

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