European officials hit back at Boris Johnson Brexit blunder


Tories increasingly isolated in Europe over Brexit chaos 

SENIOR EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, Italian and Dutch politicians have taken the Tory’s Brexit mess to task following inaccurate comments by UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. 

Johnson, speaking to a Czech newspaper, claimed that free movement of labour being a fundamental European right was a “myth” – despite it being imbedded into founding cooperation treaties since the 1950s. 

While Tory negotiating strategy has already been lampooned by the French and German foreign ministers, Johnson’s latest gaffe has prompted more serious concerns over his government’s handling of Brexit. 

Guy Verhofstadt, European Parliament negotiator on Brexit, said: “Can't wait to negotiate with Boris Johnson, so that I can read him Article 3 of the Treaty of Rome”, in reference to its longstanding commitment to freedom of movement. 

The Treaty of Rome, established in 1957, states in Article 3 that member states will seek “the abolition, as between Member States, of obstacles to freedom of movement for
persons, services and capital”.

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The Tories want to opt out of freedom of movement across the European Economic Area, while maintaining full benefits of the European Single Market. 

Carlo Calenda, Italian economy minister, expressed growing frustration to Bloomberg about the lack of progress on the Tory Brexit position. 

“Somebody needs to tell us something, and it needs to be something that makes sense,” he told the media group. 

“There’s lots of chaos and we don’t understand what the position is,” he added. 

Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem added that Johnson’s position was “intellectually impossible, politically unavailable”.

He added that the Tories were heading for a “lose-lose” situation, whatever Brexit position the government eventually decided upon. 

The criticism follows a leaked Tory Government memo, which said there was not enough time or staff for the civil service to find a Brexit plan – almost five months after the EU referendum. 

Picture courtesy of Surrey Country Council

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