EU chief: 'Nigel Farage is our only hope'

PUBLISHED: 10:17 17 April 2019 | UPDATED: 11:31 17 April 2019

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, right, and Brexiteer Nigel Farage greet each other at the European Parliament. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, right, and Brexiteer Nigel Farage greet each other at the European Parliament. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)

An EU chief has joked that Nigel Farage might be the only thing that can "save" the bloc - because he feared the continual extensions given to Theresa May was undermining European politics.

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The European Parliament's Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt raised eyebrows when he appeared to welcome the Brexiteer's attempts to prevent an extension and ultimately the UK participating in the European elections.

But he argued that the EU's decision to give another the extension threatened to undermine the unity in parliament.

He said: “Instead of sending Mrs May back to London with no extension at all, or maybe with an ultimately very short one, a few days, a week, you gave her six months.

“But six months, everybody knows that on the 31st of October, it's in fact too near for a substantial rethink of Brexit, and at the same time, too far away to prompt any action. That's the problem with the decision that has been taken.”

He added: “And the proof of this is that the first decision the House of Commons took after your decision was to go on holidays.”

Praising Farage, he told MEPs he welcomed his attempts to break the deadlock in his own unique way.

He said: “I never thought I should say that in my life in this parliament, but maybe the only thing that can save this is Nigel Farage now.”

“He's already campaigning. He's already rallying with a new party: the Brexit Party is catching up with the Conservatives in the polls and the old parties Labour and the Conservative risk being wiped out during the European elections.

Verhofstadt said he feared the Brexit paralysis could continue for years to come - with either prime minister Corbyn or Johnson, both who despise the EU.

“My fear is, is that instead of killing Brexit, the decision could risk killing Europe, at least (getting us) bogged down again for years, putting our energy in negotiations with British leaders like Mr Corbyn or Mr Johnson, who will in fact in their heart despise Europe.

“And at this at the moment, well, we need all our energy to put all our energy in the reform in the renewal of our European Union.”

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