Guy Verhofstadt, Leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe group in the European Parliament, has been named the European Union’s Chief Brexit Negotiator. Verhofstadt, who is outspokenly in favour of the EU being united into a single, sovereign United States of Europe similar to the United States of America, has come out in criticism of the EU many times, stating,
“European citizens are not against Europe, they’re against this Europe.”
Officials close to Verhofstadt said,
“He will be in the room, as he was in December when he was renegotiating the terms of British membership with [ex-Prime Minister] David Cameron.
“He’ll report back to the political group leaders in parliament and feed the parliament’s position into the negotiations. He’ll be in the room with the [European] Council and [European] Commission”
In political spheres, two reasons for Verhofstadt’s appointment are suggested – firstly, as he feels so strongly about the EU it is believed that he will ensure the EU gets a good deal, and doesn’t back down to Britain’s David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union. Secondly, it has been suggested that due to the three-party Commission Majority ruling the European Parliament – the Socialists and Democrats (roughly parallel to Labour), Verhofstadt’s aforementioned ALDE group (roughly parallel to the Liberal Democrats), and the European People’s Party (roughly parallel to the pro-EU and moderate wing of the Conservative Party), it would seem more palatable to some EU politicians to split the difference and go with a radically pro-EU centrist such as Verhofstadt, as the current Commission Majority is currently on shaky ground, with some S&D MEPs looking to see if a left wing Commission can form a majority (spoilers: no – it’s a few seats too small, but considering some parties like Italy’s Five Star Movement are left-wing and populist, it could be possible if there’s a restructure in the groupings. Just unlikely).