Brexit: Manfred Weber insists the EU 'did our job'
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MEPs branded the result of 2016’s referendum on our EU membership a “historic mistake”, blamed Brexiteers for recent violence in Northern Ireland and accused Downing Street of ruining the futures of young people. In one of most sickening attacks on Britain yet, senior parliamentarians accused Boris Johnson for stirring up tensions in Northern Ireland over a move to suspend trade checks on parcels, pets and supermarket goods coming from mainland Britain. German MEP Manfred Weber, leader of the conservative European People’s Party group, said: “Violence in Northern Ireland is Brexiteer violence – they are responsible.”
Belgian MEP Philippe Lamberts added: “If we have violence in Northern Ireland it is because of the lies of Prime Minister Johnson.”
Despite growing anger from Brussels over Britain’s decision to suspend some of the EU-ordered customs controls in the 2019 Brexit deal’s protocol to avoid a hard border, MEPs are widely expected to endorse the future relationship treaty.
The UK-EU agreement can then enter into full legal force from May 1, after a period of “provisional application”.
The EU Parliament will support a 17-page resolution describing Brexit as a “historic mistake”.
It also calls for the European Commission to take a tough approach on Britain in the row over Northern Ireland.
But the motion also raises a number of other oppositions against Brexit, including Downing Street’s refusal to join the EU’s Erasmus student exchange scheme.
Andreas Schieder, a senior Austrian MEP, described the UK’s divorce from the bloc as a “serious mistake”.
And he accused Brexiteers of praying on the weakest in society in order to win the hard-fought referendum on EU membership nearly five years ago.
He fumed: “Brexit is a serious mistake and it is the weakest in society who will suffer from this mistake – it’s not the millionaires who pumped money into the Brexit.
“But we have to recognise the decision after all these years and that is why today is the day for us to look forward. The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement is the best option on the table.”
German MEP Terry Reintke accused No10 of erecting barriers for British students wanting to study on the Continent in the future.
She blasted: “Brexit is not a project of freedom, it is a project of budding barriers.
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“Brexit is not a project of prosperity, it is a project of bureaucracy.
“Brexit is not making Britain big and global, it is making it smaller and inward-looking.”
Spanish MEP Iratxe Garcia Perez, leader of the socialist bloc in the Parliament, accused Brexiteers of supporting “the big lie of the British right”.
She suggested that Prime Minister Johnson had also lied to voters with his pledge to recovery Britain’s sovereignty from Brussels.
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The socialist chief said the UK instead surrendered Northern Ireland and Gibraltar to the whim of the EU’s regulatory controls.
She fumed: “The reality is that Northern Ireland is still part of the customs union and the international market of the European Union.
“Gibraltar will be joining Schengen and it will be Madrid which guarantees that Schengen legislation is applied there.”
Ms Garcia Perez also backed the Commission taking a tough line with Britain, calling for the bloc to leave the threat of withdrawing tariff and quota-free trade looming over Downing Street.
Brussels is concern that Mr Johnson’s Government will seek to breach elements of the divorce and trade treaties moving forward.
Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen urged the EU Parliament to back the agreement, saying the EU has “real teeth” to keep Downing Street in line.
She said: “This agreement comes with real teeth with a binding dispute settlement mechanism and the possibility for unilateral remedial measures when necessary.
“Let me be very clear, we do not want to have to use these tools, but we will not hesitate to use them if necessary.
“They are essential to ensure full compliance with the TCA.”
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