Boris Johnson called a 'real traitor' in EU Parliament as Conservatives reject Brexit compromise

Guy Verhofstadt, the EU Parliament's Brexit steering group coordinator, speaks during a debate on Brexit at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, September 18, 2019.Guy Verhofstadt, the EU Parliament's Brexit steering group coordinator, speaks during a debate on Brexit at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, September 18, 2019.Reuters / Vincent Kessler

  • Boris Johnson is branded a "real traitor" by Guy Verhofstadt, the EU parliament's Brexit co-ordinator.
  • 'The real traitor is he or she who risks bringing disaster on his country, its economy and its citizens by pushing Britain out of the EU. That, in my opinion, is a traitor,' said the Belgian MEP.
  • Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, hinted at a compromise over Brexit on Wednesday but said the UK should drop its demand that Ireland leave the customs union.
  • But Eurosceptic Conservative MPs and the DUP have already rejected the compromise plan.

LONDON - Boris Johnson was branded a "real traitor" by a senior EU politician after Conservative members of Parliament dismissed compromise Brexit proposals from Brussels.

Johnson is due to meet Irish premier Leo Varadkar at lunchtime today in a last-ditch attempt to rescue attempts by the UK to strike a Brexit deal with the EU.

However, relations between Westminster and Brussels continued to deteriorate on Wednesday after Guy Verhofstadt, the EU parliament's Brexit co-ordinator, accused Johnson of betraying British people on Brexit.

"The only one who is not to be blamed is Mr Johnson apparently," said the Belgian MEP, who chairs the parliament's Brexit Steering Group.

"All those who are not playing his game are [portrayed as] traitors, are collaborators, are surrenderers," he said, adding that "the real traitor is he or she who risks bringing disaster on his country, its economy and its citizens by pushing Britain out of the EU. That, in my opinion, is a traitor."

Watch Boris Johnson branded a 'real traitor'

 

The comments came after Donald Tusk, the European Council president, accused Boris Johnson of playing a "stupid blame game" after Downing Street briefed details of a private phone call between the prime minister and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, hinted at a compromise over Brexit on Wednesday but said the UK should drop its demand that Ireland leave the customs union.

Johnson has called for the Irish backstop to be replaced with a plan that would see Northern Ireland remain in the single market for goods but leave the customs union along with the rest of the UK.

Brussels will not accept the proposal on the grounds that it would require customs checks on the island of Ireland, which it says would threaten the Irish peace settlement.

EU sources told the Times newspaper on Wednesday that Brussels would consider allowing a revocation of the Irish backstop after a period of time, possibly in 2025.

Under the mooted proposal, Northern Ireland would stay in the customs union and single market until both unionists and nationalists voted to leave it.

Conservative Eurosceptics and the Democratic Unionist Party, which props up Johnson's minority government, rejected the plan, because it would allow the republican Sinn Fein party to block leaving the customs union.

Sammy Wilson, the DUP's Brexit spokesman, said: "It will go nowhere. The government in Westminster will not accept it, we will not accept it."

Iain Duncan Smith, a Eurosceptic Conservative MP, said: "This looks suspiciously like the EU, realising they are about to look like the bad guys, making a tokenistic offer. This is about shifting the blame to Boris Johnson."

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