Proposed during an interview with The Independent, the comment accompanied a series of damnations concerning May’s ‘chaotic’ handling of Brexit thus far. Through the damning diatribe, Verhofstadt made clear his prevailing ambivalence toward May’s attempts at negotiations. Terming her recent loss in the General Election an ‘own goal’ that had served to exemplify the UK’s rejection of her ‘Hard Brexit’ plan. Verhofstadt concluded ‘other voices should be listened to’ as talks proceed henceforth.
The newly appointed ‘Brexit Point Man’ (though this title awaits accreditation by the EuroParl Website) criticised the current tumultuous spate of Brexit affairs, calling for increased transparency, less cherry-picking and an exiting strategy more in line with the British people’s current positionality.
His critique appears largely concerned with the appointed negotiations team; this predominantly composited of David Davis. Continuing his conversation with The Independent, Verhofstadt proclaimed: “I believe the negotiations should involve more people with more diverse opinions”; when asked whether this should include opposing Party leaders, a spokesperson for Verhofstadt replied ‘Absolutely’.
Yet, while Verhofstadt calls for a more ‘diverse’ set of voices, he seems to have forgotten Corbyn’s historically staunch anti-EU mantra; paradoxically, Corbyn’s long-held Euroscepticism naturally aligns itself with that of the current negotiators.
Let this not serve as an anti-Corbyn animadversion; yet, while he may have supported Labour’s Remain campaign, the Labour leader has always been a Leaver. Much cynicism was ascribed to Corbyn throughout the lead-up to the referendum, where speculation of his loyalties proved thematically prevalent in a multitude of publications.
This conjecture arose from Corbyn’s previous voting track record concerning EU matters. Having voted to leave the European Economic Community in 1975, condemning the Maastricht Treaty in 1993 and stating the EU had “always suffered a serious democratic deficit” upon voting against the Lisbon Treaty in 2008, the papers quite rightly questioned the validity of his Remain campaign.
Corbyn’s distaste toward the EU is largely attributable to the economic and monetary union it enforced. The merger, Corbyn believes, “takes away from national parliaments the power to set economic policy and hands it over to an unelected set of bankers who will impose the economic policies of price stability, deflation and high unemployment throughout the European Community”.
These sentiments still ring true today: echoing his Maastricht Treaty concerns, last month Corbyn, in a vitriolic response to May’s wanting to remain within the single market condemned its validity, axing three Labour frontbenchers who dared to vote in favour of remaining within.
Perhaps here lies the reasoning behind Verhofstadt’s proposal: Verhofstadt, a federalist, wants a cohesive Union in which all countries subsist on the same terms; Corbyn wants out of the EU, all benefits included. Verhofstadt would rather have none of the UK in Europe, than fragments of it – regardless of whether this benefits the EU economically or not. Corbyn evidently feels the same.
Playing like putty in Verhofstadt’s federalist fingertips, Corbyn today stated: ‘The single market is dependent on membership of the EU’ believing ‘the two are inextricably linked’. He has become a mouthpiece for the faction of MEP’s in Brussels who want rid of the UK in its entirety.
I suppose my original trepidations concerning Brussels (pre-Boris and Farage’s tyrannical assault and exacerbation of the spate of Immigration) were largely composite of the economic vice that I had perceived to have been suffocating us. I felt ambivalent toward bailing out Greece; I despised paying the salary of MEPS.
However, it would appear remaining within the Single Market would prove intrinsic in maintaining some form of fiscal stability within the UK; thus, some form of relationship must be salvaged.
Concurrently, Corbyn’s reasoning for exiting the single market prove rather problematic: his standpoint could be easily transposed unto the issue of freedom of movement. This policy is wholly dependent on membership of the EU; so will we lose it? Will we turn away the thousands of wonderful Europeans who have made home here in London? Upon this supposition, I can without equivocation impugn his choice to vacate the single market, and thus refute the need for his presence during negotiations.
The pound has plummeted, austerity has asphyxiated us; is this really the time to turn away our last hope at economic consistency?