Green MEP Philippe Lamberts colorfully lamented the state of affairs in the European Parliament this morning, particularly with regard to the turbulent replacement of the EU’s top tier of leaders. He blasted: “I’ve heard various fine declarations to my left and right and hoped that I would be able to believe in them. But I have my doubts.
“At the end of the day, national interests got the better of the European project and its embodiment in this house.
“If we look at this casting exercise, I don’t know if we will get the momentum for change that our citizens want to see.
“I wanted to say to all of you in this house that if the parliament is emerging from this epidote in a weaker position then it has only itself to blame.”
Mr Lamberts went on to push for “a Europe that defends liberties and human rights and creates a more participatory democracy.
JUST IN: EU split: Ireland threatens to reject new Brussels trade deal which took 20 years to agree
“A Europe that puts the dignity of all human beings at the center of its policies rather than simply maximizing short term profit.
“This is a goal that no one has a monopoly on – we have to share these goals.
“And everyone who cares about this institution needs to be on board.
“Let’s have no illusions, dear colleagues – our house is burning.”
The EU was struck a further blow after the Brexit Party MEP used her maiden speech to deride the “undemocratic” trading bloc.
The former Conservative minister was making her address to the parliament in Strasbourg in the wake of elections which saw a series of top EU jobs allocated behind closed doors, saying the process is “just one of many reasons” why she hopes the UK leaves by the Halloween deadline.
Following negotiations by political leaders, little-known Italian socialist David Sassoli was chosen as president of the new parliament, while German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen was nominated to lead the EU Commission.
Standing alongside Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, Ms Widdecombe said: “If I needed any convincing at all that the best thing for Britain was to leave here as soon as possible, it was the way that those elections were conducted yesterday.
After the speech, Labor MP David Lammy tweeted: “Ann Widdecombe just compared Britain leaving the EU to “slaves” rising up “against their owners”.
“It is impossible to explain how offensive and ahistorical it is for you to equate my ancestors tearing off their chains with your small-minded nationalist project. Shame on you.”
Fellow Labor MP Dr Rosena Allin-Khan tweeted: “It is disgusting that Ann Widdecombe would reference slavery and colonization to describe our relationship with the EU. Her and Farage are bankrolled by elites – she’s part of the establishment which has created such a divide in this country.”
And Mr Verhofstadt responded: “Nigel Farage facing some stiff competition as chief clown of the Brexit Party in the @Europarl_EN. By the way, when Widdecombe talks about “colonies liberating themselves from their empires”, is she really referring to the American Revolution of 1776?”