Guy Verhofstadt discusses 'weaknesses' within the EU
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And Ray Bassett believes the decision will merely serve to encourage other members of the EU27 to follow Britain’s example. Arch-federalist Mr Verhofstadt was this week confirmed as chairman of a seven-person delegation which will spearhead the Conference on the Future of Europe, a series of events organised by the European Parliament, European Commission and European Council, and aimed at “giving citizens a greater role in shaping the Union’s future policies and ambitions”.
Mr Bassett, Ireland’s former ambassador to Canada, Jamaica and the Bahamas, believes Mr Verhofstadt, a vehement critic of Brexit who has wasted few opportunities to lecture Britain about the error of its ways, is singularly unsuited to such a post.
Yesterday he tweeted that the decision suggested the EU had a “death wish”
And today he told Express.co.uk: “This appointment is a reassurance to the British public that they made the wise choice in deciding to leave the EU.
“It will be an incentive to others to press ahead with opposition.”
Mr Bassett, an advocate of Irexit whom last year outlined his concerns about the EU in his book, Ireland and the EU Post Brexit, warned: “The appointment of Verhofstadt, as the Parliament’s representative, is an extremely bad move.
“It will be seen as an attempt by Euro Federalists to grab hold of the agenda of the Conference.”
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With specific reference to Mr Verhofstadt, the former Prime Minister of Belgium, Mr Bassett said: “He is regarded as an extremist who wishes to destroy the nation-states and turn the EU into a single Federation.
“It will greatly devalue the credibility of the Conference process.”
The bloc was going through a “crisis of confidence” with increasing numbers of ordinary citizens rejecting the concept of the “Ever Closer Union”, Mr Bassett suggested.
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He added: “Putting Verhofstadt in a position of influence sends all the wrong signals and is an insult to those in the EU who do not agree with his views.
“The whole conference idea was a sop to President Macron and the attitude of many governments is extremely lukewarm to the whole project.”
Their concerns would be significantly increased by Mr Verhofstadt’s nomination, Mr Bassett claimed.
He said: “Even from an EU point of view it seems like a retrograde step.
“Verhofstadt’s failure to respect the democratic result of the Brexit referendum is ample proof that he is not a true democrat and not suitable for this role.
“His constant and continuing attacks on the UK only further demonstrates his lack of balance.”
Mr Bassett concluded: “Verhofstadt had lobbied strongly to be given the Chair of the Conference position.
“The Heads of Government in the EU rejected that manoeuvre as they feared he would hijack the process.
“Now the Parliament has decided to thwart that decision. It is a very bad signal.”
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