Brexit WARNING: Brussels CHASTISED by MEPs in sombre Parliament sitting – ‘Learn lessons!’
The European Parliament is debating the future of the bloc at a gathering in Strasbourg that saw Brexit Party MEP Ann Widdecombe warn the EU that should it want a relationship with the UK, it needed to scale back to a “loose alliance”. Her words were echoed by Green Party MEP Scott Ainslie, who warned against Brussels becoming “distant, unaccountable and out of touch”. Ms Widdecombe added the UK might have stayed on as a member state had it kept to its “early vision”.
She said: “The European Union started with six countries and the vision then was that it would be a loose alliance of sovereign nations in a trading agreement, with some sort of political cooperation [and] with a totally noble ideal that that would somehow promote peace.
“And if that had remained the vision and was still the vision, I venture to say that I don’t believe that Britain would now be leaving.”
She then blasted the bloc, claiming “cooperation morphed into domination” and “sovereignty morphed into a super state”.
Ms Widdecombe added: “I believe that when we have made a big success of being a competitor on your doorstep others will follow us.
“And therefore, if you want a future – learn the lessons of what has happened in the UK.”
Mr Ainslie, who voted to Remain in the EU, called for the bloc to think about how it can change to stop another major country leaving.
He added: “Brexit should serve as a dire warning to all of us as to what happens when ordinary people see the EU as distant, unaccountable and out of touch.
“In the UK, it is too late. The damage is done. But it would be an absolute tragedy if the EU didn’t learn lessons from the calamity that is Brexit.”
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He then went on to call for “the voices of citizens and civil society [to] be heard loud and clear” and then for the debate of the bloc’s future not to be “reduced to a tokenistic rubber stamping exercise”.
He added: “It is absolutely critical that we seize this chance to amplify citizen’s voices of all Europeans which I and my country as proud Europeans look forward to continuing to do.”
Their remarks come as Brexit co-ordinator Guy Verhofstadt – who is an open critic of Brexit – said the EU “has a problem when a big country is leaving”.
He then said the bloc needed vast change and to work “from the bottom up”.
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Belgian Mr Verhofstadt recently took another aim at the UK to poke fun of the royal crisis surrounding Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
He said Prime Minister Boris Johnson should stand ready to extend the transition period beyond the end of the year – just as the Queen agreed to accommodate the Duke and Duchess of Sussexes’ wish to quit the Royal Family.
Addressing MEPs, he said Mr Johnson should “take an example” from the 93-year-old monarch who has allowed Harry and Meghan’s wish to create a new lift, in which they will divide their time between Britain and Canada in a transition period.
Mr Verhofstadt said: “I ask a bit of flexibility from Prime Minister Johnson. Maybe he can take an example from the Queen.
“The Queen yesterday gave a transition period to leave to Harry and Meghan. So maybe some flexibility on the side of Mr Johnson could also be very useful.”
The UK will leave the EU in 16 days.
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