Michel Barnier said today that Europe is now under threat from ‘a Farage in every country’.
The EU’s Brexit negotiator namechecked the former Ukip leader as he warned of the increasing threat of populism across the continent.
Speaking at the conference of the EPP, the EU’s main centre-right party, he said: “We will have to fight against those who want to demolish Europe with their fear, their populist deceit.”
He warned that the existence of the EU is ‘under threat’ in a speech that also touched on the deadlocked Brexit negotiations – without going into any great detail.
Mr Barnier pledged to ‘fulfil my Brexit mission to the end’ and warned once more that ‘the clock is ticking’.
The former french politician struggled to hold the room as he addressed the future of the EU, speaking to empty seats and a distracted crowd.
The most extraordinary thing about Barnier’s speech, literally NO-ONE is listening, I mean NO-ONE!!! Most ppl talking amongst themselves or went off to vote. Actually felt very disrespectful… He did not hold the room… pic.twitter.com/iwO0DFlu6I
— Darren McCaffrey (@DarrenEuronews) November 8, 2018
German chancellor Angela Merkel walked out of the speech half way through, while German MEP Manfred Weber stood to pose for photographs in front of Mr Barnier.
His speech came as Brexit negotiators continued to grapple of the issue of the Irish backstop.
Cabinet ministers met yesterday to discuss the UK’s position, with Theresa May scrambling to gain support for her latest proposal for the backstop.
The PM is suggesting a deal that would see the whole of the UK kept in a customs union with the EU until an agreement can be reached to prevent a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.
Brexiteers are insisting that the Britain must be able to terminate the backstop at any point without the approval of the EU to prevent the UK being forced to abide by EU rules forever.
But the EU has repeatedly said that it will not accept a backstop agreement with an end date.
Mr Barnier said yesterday that no Brexit deal will be signed unless a satisfactory agreement regarding the Irish border can be reached.