Verhofstadt blasts Johnson after “punishment beatings” jibe

The leader of the liberal group in the European Parliament, the Fleming Guy Verhofstadt, has expressed distain at comments made by the British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson. Mr Verhofstadt who will lead the European Parliament’s Brexit negotiating team was reacting to comments made by Mr Johnson during a visit to India.
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The British Foreign Minister compared French President Francois Hollande to a World War II guard administering "punishment beatings".

Mr Johnson's comments were a reaction to reported comment from one of President Hollande's aides, who said Britain should not expect a better trading relationship with Europe from outside the EU.

"If Monsieur Hollande wants to administer punishment beatings to anyone who chooses to escape, rather in the manner of some World War Two movie, then I don't think that's the way forward.”
"It's not in the interests of our friends or our partner”, Mr Johnson said.

In a response to Mr Johnsons comment, Mr Verhofstadt, a former Belgian Prime Minister and ardent Europhile, said “This is as abhorrent" and deeply unhelpful."

The man that will lead the European Parliament’s Brexit negotiating team also urged the UK Prime Minister Theresa May to condemn Mr Johnson’s words. However, Ms May’s official spokeswoman brushed off suggestions that the Foreign Secretary should apologise, describing his comments as a "theatrical comparison".

She went on to dismiss the row as a "hyped-up media report" and said she was not aware of any complaint from the Elysée Palace”.

imago/Eibner Europa

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