Committed europhile Mr Verhofstadt, a persistent critic of the UK’s decision to quit the bloc, made his remarks in response to Home Secretary Priti Patel, who tweeted: “We’re ending free movement to open Britain up to the world.” Mr Verhofstadt, who was the Leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe in the assembly, from 2009 to 2019, said: “Scoop! Britain is the first country in world history to open up by pulling up the drawbridge!
“The sad reality behind this newspeak: less freedoms & opportunities for continental Europeans and British people alike. Everyone loses.”
Mr Verhofstadt’s remark triggered a lengthy debate on Twitter, with 3,400 comments, many of them highly scornful in tone.
One said: “Nothing pleases me more than seeing how triggered you are by Brexit becoming a reality.
“All that hard work you did to try and overturn a democratic vote failed. Thanks Guy, I needed that.”
Another added: “It hurts you Guy, the fact that we have left, that pleases me so much, to think you once laughed we would be a colony of the EU.
“Well, you’re not laughing now, enjoy your new Baltic nations net contributors will have to subsidise, lucky we don’t have to.”
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“Because that’s what EU ‘freedom of movement’ is.”
Others suggested Mr Verhofstadt would do better to consider the factors which led to Brexit in the first place.
One said: “Shouldn’t have tried to make us a vassal state then …..should have treated us as the sovereign nation we voted to be and not tried to overturn our decision.”
Another added: “Doh! Poor old Verhofstadt STILL hasn’t worked out it was his EU freedoms and opportunities that CAUSED Brexit.”
Some, however, were quick to praise Mr Verhofstadt for his comment, with one saying: “I’m an angry Brit. I hate that we are doing this. I want to remain part of the EU and unfortunately we are stuck with people who dont understand the benefits of being part of a greater movement. Better for people and better fiscally.
“Will always remain European.
Mr Verhofstadt has made frequent use of social media to push his views on Brexit since the 2016 referendum.
After Theresa May’s EU Withdrawal Bill was defeated in the Commons in December 2017, with 11 Tory rebels voting against the Government, he swiftly mocked the Leave campaign’s ‘Take Back Control’ slogan.