Nigel Farage’s time as UKIP leader may come to an end this weekend but this does not mean he will be stepping away from the Brexit process anytime soon.
The passionate pro-Leaver launched an extraordinary verbal attack on the European Parliament on Wednesday morning, accusing the body of declaring “war” on Brexit by appointing Guy Verhofstadt as its chief negotiator.
Business Insider previously noted how Verhofstadt would be a very unpopular choice with Brexiteers.
He is a “staunch federalist” who was strongly opposed to Britain leaving the 28-nation bloc long before the June 23 referendum.
He has also made it clear that, as the EU’s Brexit negotiator, he will not allow Theresa May a deal which allows Britain to opt out of the free movement of people and retain access to the single market.
Speaking in Strasbourg, France on Wednesday, Farage described Verhofstadt as a “fanatic” who would seek to make Brexit as difficult as possible for Britain:
“In terms of Brexit, you’re probably right to be slightly critical of the British government, who ought to get on with it.
“But the EU is getting on with it and you’ve already appointed your divorce lawyers. On behalf of the European Parliament, we’ve got Guy Verhofstadt. He’s the man who is going to be negotiating Brexit.
“If you were to think of this building [the EU Parliament] as a temple, well, Mr Verhofstadt is the high priest. A fanatic. In fact, there is only really one nationalist in this room and it’s you [Verhofstadt] because you want flags, anthems, armies… you are an EU nationalist.
“I frankly think that this appointment amounts to pretty much a declaration of war on any sensible negotiation process.”
Watch Farage attack Verhofstadt in the clip below.
Farage later told Sky News that former Belgian prime minister Verhofstadt “dislikes” Britain and will be determined to give Britain a poor deal. Verhofstadt did not appear to be at all ruffled by Farage’s speech and tweeted a defiant response shortly after.
— Guy Verhofstadt (@GuyVerhofstadt) September 14, 2016
Verhoftstadt said on Tuesday he wants Brexit to be completed by 2019. This would mean May would probably have to trigger Article 50 this year or early next 2017.
David Davis MP, one of the ministers responsible for Brexit negotiations, said the process would be the “most complicated negotiation of all time” and expected a “frustrating” period of time before Article 50 is triggered.