Bitter Verhofstadt savaged over claims Ukraine would be more free in the EU

Lionel Barber rips into Boris for likening Ukraine to Brexit

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The Prime Minister’s comparison sparked fury in Brussels, with Belgian MEP Guy Verhofstadt slamming the remarks on Twitter.

Mr Verhofstadt said: “Johnson’s comparison of the courageous fight of Ukraine with Brexit is insane… Brexit was about undoing freedoms and leaving the EU… Ukrainians want more freedom and to join the EU!”

But he found himself being criticised as Twitter users defended Johnson and called into question the bloc’s commitment to freedom after Russia’s forces invaded Ukraine.

Paul Williams said: “The EU have a funny way of showing their ‘freedoms’ by filling up Putin’s bank account. The EU is morally bankrupt!”

It comes after a Newsweek article claimed Brussels has paid Russia billions for fossil fuels since the start of the war.

Express.co.uk readers also hit back at Mr Verhofstadt, who is a leading critic of Brexit.

Commenting on this website, one reader with the username Gordie1234 wrote: “It’s a fair comparison. The key of the statement is about freedom of choice.

“Take no notice of these parties who say it was poor taste – unfortunately, they have no creditable policies and resort to attempting to discredit. To me it shows the poor standards of politicians in opposition.”

Another reader Maudlin fumed: “Verhofstadt ‘wades in?’ He’s never out of the UK’s business. Like all these other EU diktats who think they still own this island.”

A third with the username Pianoman commented: “Boris was voicing an opinion on freedom but as usual the words have been twisted into something else by the bitter Remainers so they can criticise Boris.”

A fourth reader, Nosha17, blasted: “Whatever reason anyone can concoct in order to diss Boris, they will. There are more important issues to deal with than this Verhofstadt nonsense.”

A fifth, Dogglebird, insisted: “Johnson wasn’t ‘comparing’ the struggle in Ukraine with Brexit, he was simply highlighting one obvious parallel, that of the desire of citizens of nation states to enjoy absolute self-determination. That is an entirely legitimate point.”

Another reader with the username MountErebus added: “Great to see Brexit Britain can still wind up the EU … even though we left.”

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One more, Summer.bay, said: “Boris is 100% right on this.”

The row comes after Mr Johnson sparked fury by comparing the struggle of Ukrainians fighting the Russian invasion to British people voting for Brexit.

In his speech to the Tory spring conference in Blackpool last Friday, the Prime Minister said: “I know that it’s the instinct of the people of this country, like the people of Ukraine, to choose freedom, every time.

“I can give you a couple of famous recent examples.

“When the British people voted for Brexit in such large, large numbers, I don’t believe it was because they were remotely hostile to foreigners.

“It’s because they wanted to be free to do things differently and for this country to be able to run itself.”

The other example given by Mr Johnson was the British people’s willingness to voluntarily get vaccinated against Covid because they “wanted to get on with their lives” and “were fed up with being told what to do by people like me”.

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