Guy Verhofstadt: Boris Johnson duped Brexiteers before, and he's doing it again

PUBLISHED: 15:11 28 June 2019 | UPDATED: 09:20 01 July 2019

Guy Verhofstadt said Boris Johnson

Guy Verhofstadt said Boris Johnson "duped" the British public over Brexit and is continuing to do so in his leadership campaign. Picture: Brian Lawless/PA Images / Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Brian Lawless/PA Images / Foreign and Commonwealth Office

The EU's chief negotiator has denounced Boris Johnson's "false promises, pseudo-patriotism, and foreigner bashing" in a piece ridiculing "buccaneering" Brexiteers.

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Guy Verhoftstadt said that Johnson "duped" the British public with the £350million-a-week NHS funding promise and continues to do so by claiming that he can tear up a non-negotiable withdrawal agreement, withhold the £39billion still owed to the EU at the same time as negotiating free trade deals.

"To Johnson's followers, however, he is more prophet than politician," wrote Verhofstadt, who is also the former Belgian prime minister, in the op-ed for Project Syndicate. "Only he can deliver a mythical 'true Brexit' that will deliver the prosperity promised during the referendum campaign.

"As is often the case with populists, reality does not square with Johnson's ensorceling combination of false promises, pseudo-patriotism, and foreigner bashing," he said.

He trashed the Brexiteers' idea of 'global Britain' as one which will rip up the UK's 40 trade agreements with 70 countries we already have as part of the EU.

The real trading power is in the EU, he argued, which is currently wrangling with the terms of a trade deal representing 750 million people between the bloc and the Mercosur countries of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.

"The EU must use its collective purchasing power to raise standards globally, particularly with respect to environmental protection," he observed - standards that the UK has much less chance of maintaining in a lone negotiating position.

This deal, when agreed, will be a "win-win" that will give Johnson "still more proof that Brexit is not only unnecessary but also detrimental to Britain's economic interests", he wrote.

"The 'buccaneering' Brexiteers might then finally have to explain what it is they're still complaining about."

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