Guy Verhofstadt on Ukraine invasion and Brexit
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Guy Verhofstadt today suggested Vladimir Putin would not have invaded Ukraine if not for Brexit. The Belgian MEP said if the UK had not left the EU the Russian President may not have launched his brutal attack on neighbouring Kyiv.
Mr Verhofstadt told LBC’s Nick Ferrari: “This war, this brutal invasion, has started with Putin and Russia.
“It has nothing to do with the extension of Nato, or the EU, it’s really an attempt by Putin to restore the old Soviet Union.
“The only difference is the communist party is replaced by his cronies.
“A united Europe, certainly on defence matters, would make an enormous difference.
“I think maybe without Brexit there would be no invasion. I don’t know, but I think he would see a far stronger and united Europe on the other side.”
Doubling down on his comments, he added in a later tweet: “Brexit made Britain poorer, Europe weaker… and worst of all, it made liberal democracy’s enemies happier!”
“An unforgivable mistake… but a great democracy like Britain’s can always turn around and fix its mistakes.”
But the European Parliament’s former Brexit coordinator has been accused of going “too far” with his remarks.
Theresa May’s ex-chief of staff Gavin Barwell said: “Putin will certainly have celebrated Brexit because it was bound to distract the UK and EU for a few years and create some rancour between them, but as usual Verhofstadt goes too far – Putin invaded Crimea in 2014 when the UK was still in the EU.”
Mr Verhofstadt also said it was his “dream” for Britain to rejoin Brussels, along with war-torn Ukraine.
It comes after he tweeted on Monday on the third anniversary of the UK’s official exit from the EU that he wanted Britain to be back in the bloc’s fold in just five years.
He told LBC: “My dream was that I transmitted in a tweet yesterday was to say, let’s hope that Britain can rejoin and let’s hope that Ukraine can join and why not within five years?
“Maybe it’s a little bit optimistic concerning the UK, but my feeling is when the last time when I was in London, that for the first time in the public opinion in Britain, people understand that Brexit was a wrong choice and that it has done a lot of damage to Europe and certainly to the UK.”
But Mr Verhofstadt was slapped down by Tory MP Lee Anderson.
Mr Anderson said: “I also had a dream that 17.4 million voted to leave the EU and with your childish petty behaviour over the past few years we have proven to be right.
“Stop this divisive politics, we’re out!”
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