Top EU official calls Brexit a ‘stupid’ decision


05 Sep, 2017

Top EU official calls Brexit a ‘stupid’ decision

The 17.4 million people who voted for Brexit made a “stupid” decision which could still be reversed, said one of the EU’s most powerful officials.

Martin Selmayr, chief of staff to the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, said it was “legally” possible for the UK to reverse its decision to leave.

His remarks were described as “pig headed” and he was accused of trying to interfere in the parliamentary process ahead of a week in which MPs will begin discussing the EU Withdrawal Bill. The bill will come before Parliament for its second reading on Thursday ahead of a crucial vote next week at which Labour could attempt to derail the Brexit process.

On Sunday, Chancellor Philip Hammond told Tory rebels who might be thinking of siding with Labour to amend or delay the bill that “now is not the time” to disrupt the Brexit process.

Meanwhile, Downing Street said it wanted Brexit talks to “intensify” to ensure a agreement can be reached by the time Britain leaves the EU in March 2019.

Speaking at a conference in Brussels on Sunday, Mr Selmayr declared: “Brexit is bad, and it’s a stupid decision. The only people who can reverse it would be the British people and I am not a dreamer, I am a realist. Brexit will happen on March 29, 2019.”

He said that while it was “legally” possible for the U.K. to reverse its decision, “it would be arrogant of us” to say the EU could force it to happen.

Former Ukip leader, Nigel Farage, said: “His comments amount to a pig-headed denial in Brussels that Brexit is happening and a desire to be uncooperative at every step of the way.”

Mr Farage went on to suggest that Mr Selmayr was trying to interfere in the forthcoming Parliamentary vote, adding: “He is directly appealing to the Tory rebels and the Labour Party and doing his best to upset the Parliamentary process.”

Anna Soubry, a leading Tory Remainer, said suggestions that rebel Conservative MPs would try to vote down the bill were “absolute nonsense”. But she said she would put her name to “sensible” amendments to the legislation at a later stage.

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