The leader of the European Parliament’s biggest party has lashed out at the United Kingdom, claiming recent rioting in Northern Ireland “occurs because of Brexit”.
Manfred Weber, head of the European People’s Party was speaking to Deutschland Radio when he levelled his wild accusations.
Weber said: “The actual result of Brexit is that food deliveries to Great Britain have plummeted by 40%, investments by British companies in Europe have increased by 20 billions [sic], the Brits are fleeing their own country, because they know the single market is important.”
If Weber was referring to the 17,000 increase in the number of Brits leaving the UK each year since the 2016 EU referendum compared to before (74,000 after, 57,000 before) then it can hardly be described as “fleeing”.
“And 30,000 European students who studied in GB in 2019 can no longer study there this year. Because Erasmus no longer applies,” continued Weber, referring to the EU’s expensive student exchange scheme that few young Brits participated in compared to students from other countries in the bloc.
“These are the actual effects and that is why Brexit is a big mistake for all involved.”
On the subject of Northern Ireland, which saw widespread unrest a few weeks ago after loyalists rioted against the police for allowing republicans to attend the funeral of a member of the IRA en masse, flouting Covid restrictions, Weber said: “We have a particularly problematic situation with the Northern Irish situation with the re-emerging violence, which, by the way, is Brexit violence.
“It occurs because of Brexit. The EU created peace, Northern Ireland and Brexit are causing violence again.”
Asked to reconcile his anti-Brexit position with Britain’s bumper recovery from Covid – bigger than the EU’s and arriving sooner – Weber for once dismissed the significance of Brexit.
The MEP, once hotly tipped to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker as Commission President before EU leaders decided he was not enough of a heavyweight, insisted: “Britain can only accomplish the vaccinations because the EU delivered the vaccine, because Europe has delivered.
“We were willing to work together with the Brits in a collaboration, also, by the way, with Switzerland and Norway, who we have allowed to take part in the European vaccination strategy.
“And the Brits were very selfish and didn’t export any vaccines. This is the actual state of affairs.”
Another aspect of the “actual state of affairs” is the EU’s contract with Covid jab supplier, AstraZeneca, which contained clauses barring Eurocrats from trying to sue the drugmaker. The Belgian government uncovered gaping holes in the contract just before it was signed in August, but chose not to flag it up.
AstraZeneca went on to drastically miss its supply commitments. The EU has chosen to sue, in spite of the protective clauses.