‘Taking back control never looked so sinister’ - Verhofstadt on Johnson’s prorogation plan

European Parliament Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA.

European Parliament Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA. - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Guy Verhofstadt has slammed Boris Johnson's latest move to try to force Brexit.

The European Parliament Brexit co-ordinator said the prime minister's plan is "unlikely to help deliver a stable future EU - UK relationship".

"'Taking back control' has never looked so sinister," he tweeted. "As a fellow parliamentarian, my solidarity with those fighting for their voices to be heard.

"Suppressing debate on profound choices is unlikely to help deliver a stable future EU - UK relationship."

French MEP Nathalie Loiseau, a former Europe minister, said: "We are going to see a Brexit without agreement and what's more a Brexit without debate.

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"What illness is British democracy suffering from to be fearful of debate before making one of the most important decisions in its history?"

Former Finnish prime minister Alexander Stubb said it "makes me really sad to see what Brexit is doing to one of the great democracies of our time".

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"Please, stay calm and use common sense," he added.

Norbert Rottgen, chairman of the German parliament's foreign affairs committee, said: "Johnson argues that respect for democracy dictates implementing Brexit 'do or die' on October 31.

"As a fellow parliamentarian and democrat I wonder: how does respect for democracy go together with suspending Parliament?!"

Dutch MEP Sophie in 't Veld said: "Suspending parliament is basically the suspension of democracy and the voice of the people.

"Nothing less than an anti-democratic power-grab. It makes the slogan 'taking back control' sound quite sinister."

A senior European Union source told the BBC's Brussels reporter Adam Fleming said it would still not change its position on talks.

They said: "Whatever happens, the EU was never going to change its position because no deal becomes 'more credible' or opponents of 'no deal' would get better organised."

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