Introducing the new hate figure for the tabloid press…

The European Parliament has appointed its lead negotiator for the Brexit discussions. And it’s someone well known to Liberal Democrats. He announced it on his Twitter this afternoon:

The BBC has this to say about his appointment:

An EU official close to Mr Verhofstadt said the former Belgian leader “will be in the room, as he was in December when he was renegotiating the terms of British [EU] membership with [ex-UK PM] David Cameron”.
“He’ll report back to the political group leaders in parliament and feed the parliament’s position into the negotiations. He’ll be in the room with the [European] Council and [European] Commission,” he told the BBC.
The Council – representing the other 27 EU governments – and the Commission, which enforces EU treaties, share power with the parliament. But the Council and Commission are expected to have the most muscle in the Brexit talks.
Alyn Smith MEP of the Scottish National Party (SNP) welcomed Mr Verhofstadt’s new role. The Leave vote was 52% overall, but in Scotland 62% voted Remain – and Mr Verhofstadt believes Scotland has a right to stay in the EU.

Over the years, the British tabloid press has been less than polite about various EU figures. That’s part of the reason we’re in this mess in the first place. Remember back in the day when the Sun told us that we should face France and shout “Up yours, Delors.”

Guy is no doubt going to get the same sort of lamentable treatment. He is well able to cope with it, however. Watch him here in the European Parliament way back in 2012 tearing a strip off Nigel Farage.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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16 Comments

  • Let’s hope Guy will accept a second referendum on the terms of the deal.

  • I cheered when I heard he had this role last night!

  • The EU have obviously decided they don’t want a friendly break up or they wouldn’t have selected the negotiators they have. With them and Davies, Fox and Johnson in the same room it’s hard to see a happy outcome for either side. It might turn out to be in everyone’s best interests if we just leave, it’s either that or years of lies and abuse being thrown by both sides, which may well end up with the same result. The EU and the UK may both suffer a little, but in the end it may be for the best.

  • This appointment of a true European liberal is a very welcome development from a Scottish point of view.

    This is Guy Verhofstadt in action on 28 June in sparkling form more recently responding to the Brexit vote…
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7IewKT3zlE

    He is quite unequivocal in his condemnation of the conduct of the Leave campaign. His reference to the “Dual Kingdom of England and Wales” is a clear and welcome recognition that the UK government does not speak for Scotland on this matter. He is known to be very sympathetic to Scotland’s plight tweeting, “It’s wrong that Scotland might be taken out of the EU, when it voted to stay. Happy to discuss with Nicola Sturgeon.”

    If a separate arrangement for Scotland to stay in Europe, would be looked upon sympathetically by the EU, then it leaves Westminster as the main threat to Scotland’s rightful place in Europe. Nonetheless, he has reportedly also agreed that an independent Scotland would gain automatic entry into the EU, which highlights the importance of also keeping that option firmly on the table.

  • I’m slightly worried here because I actually agree with Al. Guy gets federalism and it may be that he can in some way help us find an option that isn’t independence.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 9th Sep '16 - 1:38pm

    This appointment is excellent , Guy one of those who, if he had more clout at a higher level , running the Commission for example ,like some from larger groupings in the parliament , could lead the EU in a way we all might have found more appealing.

    Not sure how Scotland could be in the EU and not independent , but who knows ?!

    As for his view on their being accepted if independent , he is a Liberal and a Democrat proper, not sure the same would be true of twenty seven other state representatives, some from countries keen to avoid break ups in their countries.

  • jedibeeftrix 9th Sep '16 - 6:45pm

    @ william – “Let’s hope Guy will accept a second referendum on the terms of the deal.”

    It won’t be for him to decide, or the commission. This will be decided by national governments.

  • Oh dear it’s a lose-lose situation for the Lib Dems. If Brexit is a success (probably will be) then the Lib Dems will be scuppered nationally. The Tories rightly will say that they were on the wrong side of history and how can you trust them ever again. If GV plays hard ball with the kind of quotes we have from this article then it will be used by every Tory in the land. `Top EuroLiberal attacks UK` Stuff like that.

    You have the worst leader the Lib Dems have ever had – and you have made the worst post-Brexit choices you ever could have made. My advice is to cut your ties to this man ASAP. `Dual kingdom of England and Wales` oh my – I could make up a story every week with this guy.

  • The Outers have already turned on themselves, and Fox is now blaming British Business for not being prepared ….but hang on were the Outers prepared…..are they prepared now……they have a plan??? I didnt expect he blame for the failure that is slowly and painfully unfolding to be pinned on UK business so quickly. Over the last few weeks they blamed the Inners…. for not suddenly changing their opinions……. the EU for not promising everything that the Outers wanted….. and now the ‘Fat and lazy uk businesses’. This reminds me of the mad man in his bunker in 1945, blaming his Generals, soldiers, and people for the disaster that he had created and the nightmare he had unleased. It looks like the Outers will in the end blame us the UK people for their failure, the script has been well used by those in power who take no responsiblity. What an utter mess.

  • Greenfield,
    ‘Fat and lazy’ Britain is ill-prepared to secure future outside EU, says Liam Fox….

    On Monday David Davis showed he’d no idea of how to handle ‘Brexit’…

    Of the ‘three stooges’, tasked with leaving the EU, two show no positive vibes….

    That only leaves Boris…What could possibly go wrong?

  • Ian Hurdley 10th Sep '16 - 8:02am

    I can’t think of a better person for the post. He understands the frustrations of many Brits with the EU in its current form, and indeed shares many of them. He knows that in this respect Britain is no different to many other EU member states. He understands the need for the EU to undertake serious reforms, and indeed spent the summer recess working up a comprehensive plan for reform. At the same he recognises that the outcome of the referendum is that the UK will leave the Union, and has already been looking ahead to see how the UK may enter a new relationship which is to the benefit of the EU.
    What that negotiated solution will be, I do not know, but with Guy Verhofstadt leading for Europe, I feel a lot more optimistic.

  • “….with Guy Verhofstadt leading for Europe, I feel a lot more optimistic.”

    As a Leaver, I too feel a lot more optimistic with Guy Verjofstadt leading for the *EU*,…. (for the umpteenth time,..we’re NOT leaving Europe!).

  • In my final sentence above – it all being crystal clear from what came before that I am talking about the EU – I used the shorthand, ‘Europe’. My grasp of geography is quite as good as yours, J Dunn.

  • Gordon Lishman 10th Sep '16 - 11:49am

    Guy is not only a tough liberal; he’s also a very successful negotiator and fixer. As the first Liberal PM of Belgium for 115 years, he managed a divided country, did deals and achieved new agreements to deal with serious challenges. He also built a strong new party on the original party base.

  • Ian
    *Europe* is not shorthand for the *EU*,.. not even close. And a failure to understand that is indicative of the misguided liberal angst over the very successful Leave campaign.
    We WILL trade with *Europe*. We WILL remain partners on the myriad of useful and co-dependent *European* projects that we are already part of.
    What we WILL NOT DO is be told by an unelected group of *EU* sociopaths, what we can and can’t do within the sovereignty of the UK. End of.!
    If someone genuinely cannot distinguish the massive difference between EU and Europe, sadly,.. the debate you’re making is way off on a tangent.

  • Ian Hurdley 12th Sep '16 - 5:37pm

    J Dunn.
    “What we WILL NOT DO is be told by an unelected group of *EU* sociopaths, what we can and can’t do within the sovereignty of the UK. End of.!”
    I presume here you are referring to the civil servants of the European Commission whose function is to respond to requests for legislative proposals from members of the European Parliament (all elected by voters in their respective countries, by the way) or from the Council of Ministers ( all government ministers in their respective countries, and like MEPs elected by voters in their respective countries.
    I presume also that you will be about to refer me to the source document which reveals these employees to suffer from a sociopathic personality disorder.
    If *you* genuinely cannot distinguish between fact and blind prejudice, then I’m afraid your rant ( I won’t flatter it with the term ‘debate’) is what is way off target.

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