Brexit: Here are the worst insults British and EU politicians have lobbed at each other

Anti-Brexit demonstration in Birmingham, UK on September 30, 2018.
Anti-Brexit demonstration in Birmingham, UK on September 30, 2018. Copyright REUTERS/Darren Staples
By Alice Tidey
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British politicians have compared the EU to a Soviet prison and said the bloc had a similar goal to Hitler's. Meanwhile on the continent, some serious trolling has been conducted on social media.


As a top UK politician who described the EU to a Soviet prison on Sunday proves, fiery rhetoric from both sides of the Brexit negotiations continue to spew despite the need for an agreement to be struck urgently.

With just six months to go before the UK formally leaves the EU, Euronews recaps some of the most incendiary insults and quips politicians have thrown at each other over Brexit.

United Kingdom

EU similar to Soviet 'prison'

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt compared the EU to a Soviet Union prison during his speech at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham on Sunday.

"What happened to the confidence and ideals of the European dream? The EU was set up to protect freedom. It was the Soviet Union that stopped people leaving.

"The lesson from history is clear: if you turn the EU club into a prison, the desire to get out won't diminish it will grow — and we won't be the only prisoner that will want to escape," he said.

The comparison did not go down well for many across the continent, particularly ex-Soviet states. Baibe Braze, Latvia's ambassador to the UK, rebuked Hunt in a tweet.

"Soviets killed, deported, exiled and imprisoned 100 thousands of Latvia's inhabitants after the illegal occupation in 1940, and ruined lives of 3 generations, while the EU has brought prosperity, equality, growth, respect," she posted.

EU's 'stealth and deception'

Brexit referendum architect Nigel Farage pulled few punches when he addressed the EU parliament just days after the UK voted to leave the 28-country bloc in June 2016.

He accused the EU of bypassing democracy and told his fellow MEPs that "virtually none" of them had "proper jobs."

"The biggest problem you've got, and the main reason the United Kingdm voted the way it did, is because you have by stealth and deception, and without telling the truth to the rest of the peoples of Europe, imposed upon them a political union," he said.

His speech was met with laughter in the room with some MEPs even turning their backs to Farage as he spoke.

EU like 'Napoleon, Hitler'

One month before the June 2016 Brexit referendum, Boris Johnson, then-leader of the "Out" campaign, said the EU was following in the path of Adolf Hitler and Napoleon in trying to create a European superstate.

"Napoleon, Hitler, various people tried this out, and it ends tragically," Johnson said in an interview with the Telegraph newspaper.

"The EU is an attempt to do this by different methods. But fundamentally what is lacking is the eternal problem, which is that there is no underlying loyalty to the idea of Europe. There is no single authority that anybody respects or understands. That is causing this massive democratic void," he added.

The comments divided the Conservative party and drew condemnation from the main opposition Labour party. The EU stayed mute.

EU delivering 'punishment beatings'

Johnson stayed on theme during his tenure as foreign secretary.

"If Mr Hollande wants to administer punishment beatings to anybody who seeks to escape (the EU), in the manner of some World War Two movie, I don't think that is the way forward, and it's not in the interests of our friends and partners," he said during a January 2017 trade visit to India.

He made the quip after an adviser to then-French President Francois Hollande said the UK should not expect a better trading relationship after Brexit then it enjoyed as a member.


The French government did not respond but Guy Verhofstadt, the EU parliament's Brexit coordinator, said the comments were "abhorrent & deeply unhelpful."

European Union

'Sorry, no cherries'

The EU leaders meeting in Salzburg, Austria, in late September was a tough one for British Prime Minister Theresa May, who returned home humiliated after her Brexit proposals were all but shot down by her European counterparts.

EU Council President Donald Tusk doubled down on the humiliation, this time on social media, posting a picture of himself presenting May with cakes.

His caption: "A piece of cake, perhaps? Sorry, no cherries."

The EU has accused the UK of cherry-picking since Brexit negotiations started in earnest last year by trying to retain some of the advantages of EU membership while dumping the parts it doesn't like.


Brexiters are 'liars'

French President Emmanuel Macron also launched an unprecedented attack on Brexiters from Salzburg, branding them "liars."

"Those who explain that we can easily live without Europe, that everything is going to be all right, and that it's going to bring a lot of money home, are liars. It's even more true since they left the day after so as to not have to deal with it," he said.

The comments seemingly took a swipe at Johnson and Farage.

Juncker mocks May

In July, after months of public political infighting within the British cabinet between so-called Brexiters and Remainers, May released her Chequers Brexit proposals. She emphasised that it was her top team's "collective position" and many in her party rushed to highlight that cabinet was now united behind a single Brexit strategy.

Yet within 48 hours, two prominent members of her team — Brexit Minister David Davis and Foreign Minister Boris Johnson — resigned in protest.


"This clearly proves at Chequers there was unity in the cabinet," EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker quipped during a press conference, shortly after Johnson announced his resignation.

'Strong and stable'

May called for a snap general election in April 2017 in the hope of solidifying her Conservative Party's majority in parliament and strengthen her hand during Brexit negotiations.

Her mantra during the two-month campaign — which she repeated so many times that memes were created — was that she would provide the country with a "strong and stable" leadership.

Brexit negotiations meanwhile had entered a particularly combative stage with leaks from both sides and a dinner between Juncker and May described as "disastrous" in the press

Verhofstadt saw fit to troll the British prime minister by using her own words against her.


"Any Brexit deal requires a strong and stable understanding of the complex issues involved. The clock is ticking — it's time to get real," he posted on Twitter.

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