European elections LIVE: EU fate in hands of SHOCK ‘kingmakers’ – ‘Mainstream will LOSE!'

Posted on May 22 2019 - 3:26pm by admin

Meanwhile French President Emmanuel Macron launched a desperate bid to stop populists sweeping the board at Thursday’s European elections – by saying the EU needs to tighten its borders, echoing the message of far-right leaders including Marine Le Pen and Italy’s Matteo Salvini. Bas Eickhout, an MEP from the Netherlands and a co-candidate of Europe’s Green parties for European commission president, told the Guardian: “We have a good chance to determine the new majorities. And we will have our demands, on green issues, social issues, and the rule of law.”

Mr Macron told reporters yesterday: “We don’t protect our common borders enough. There is no solidarity anymore and too many differences in our asylum laws. I want to overhaul Schengen, with a smaller area if need be, a better protection of common borders, a harmonisation of asylum laws and oversight by a council of interior ministers.”

Elsewhere Guy Verhoftstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit representative, has claimed Italian deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini is “in league with Putin” – and challenged him to a debate on the future of the EU in a rant in which he also accused Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage of being in cahoots with the Russian leader.

Mr Verhofstadt said he had recently debated in the European Parliament with Mr Conte but added: “We all know that you are the real leader of the Italian government.”

He said: “Tell me where you want to do it, in Brussels or in Italy. I will be there.”

Mr Verhofstadt accused Mr Salvini, Mr Farage and others of “constantly plotting with and paid by Putin to destroy Europe”.


Jean-Claude Juncker

Jean-Claude Juncker may be surprised as who emerged from the elections as “kingmakers” (Image: GETTY)

8.20pm update: May receives backlash on Twitter over #LetsGetThisDone Brexit hashtag

Prime Minister Theresa May received a social media backlash for gloating about her botched Brexit deal on Twitter, which features giving MPs a vote on a second referendum.

The Conservative Party leader said: “This afternoon I outlined a new Brexit deal so we can leave the European Union as soon as possible.

“Find out the facts about it here. #LetsGetThisDone.”

But commenters quickly gave her a piece of their minds.

One said: “#LetsGetThisDone Get what done? Giving a vote to parliament on a 2nd ref so you can bury Brexit like you’ve been trying to ever since you took office, & bury our democracy with it in the process? You’re are threat to our country & its values. You should be removed immediately.”

Another said: “This afternoon you outlined the death of the Conservative Party and tried once again to b*stardise the voices of 17.4 million ppl. RESIGN. #ChangePoliticsForGood #NoConfidence #NoMandate.”

Another added: “Why should future governments have the option to have a closer working relationship with the EU ? The whole point of this vote is to have no further involvement with the corrupt bunch of unelected dictators #leavemeansleave.”

Another said: “If “let’s get this done” means your cabinet & yourself betraying 17.4m voters then mission accomplished. Resign!!”

8.10pm update: Rees Mogg hits out at May’s deal – ‘worse than before!’

Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg has hit out at Theresa May’s new deal which features a second referendum vote for MPs.

Leading Brexiteer Mr Rees-Mogg took to Twitter are her speech, which saw her make the shock announcement.

He said: “The Prime Minister’s latest proposals are worse than before and would leave us bound deeply in to the EU. It is time to leave on WTO terms.”

Boris Johnson, the leading contender for Mrs May’s job, also expressed his rage at her latest offering.

He said: “With great reluctance I backed MV3. Now we are being asked to vote for a customs union and a second referendum.

“The Bill is directly against our manifesto – and I will not vote for it. We can and must do better – and deliver what the people voted for.”

Mr Rees-Mogg re-tweeted Mr Johnson’s tweet.

8pm update: ‘Dear Brexit friends’ – former Czech President gives speech at Brexit Party rally

Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party welcomed a special guest onto the stage at a rally today.

Former president of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Klaus, is speaking at the Brexit Party rally ahead of Nigel Farage.

He began by greeting his “dear Brexit friends” and says the Czech Republic has the “same or similar criticisms” of the EU.

7.20pm update: Guy Verhofstadt tells British to say ‘b*llocks to Brexit’ in Twitter rant

Guy Verhofstadt has told Britain to say “b*llocks to Brexit” in a bizarre rant on his Twitter page.

He delivered a video message to the UK, he told Britons to vote for the Lib Dems, adding “say b*llocks to Brexit”.

He captioned the video: “At these European Elections, pro-Europeans in Britain have the chance to make a noise that the whole of Europe will hear.

Say B*llocks to #Brexit – vote for the @LibDems!”

His plea, which came two hours after Theresa May put a second referendum on the table, was mocked by the British.

One said simply: “B*llocks to EU.”

Another added: “B*llocks to @guyverhofstadt.”

Another, referring to the EU election result announcement, said: “You’ll be looking even rougher on Monday.”

7pm update: May’s new Brexit deal appears acceptable to Ireland, Varadkar says

Theresa May’s “new deal” aimed at delivering Brexit would appear to be acceptable to Ireland, a key party in the negotiations, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said on Tuesday.

“We have always said that if this withdrawal agreement bill doesn’t contradict the letter or spirit of the withdrawal agreement, including the Irish backstop, well then it’s something that we can accept,” Varadkar told Irish national broadcaster RTE after May set out plans that quickly ran into

opposition in London.

“It hasn’t been published yet so we don’t have a formal view on it… From what I’ve heard, it sounds like it is okay and would be acceptable.”


Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said May’s deal was ‘acceptable’ (Image: GETTY)

6.55pm update: DUP demands new PM to deliver Brexit

The deputy leader of the Northern Irish party propping up British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government said on Tuesday he thought Brexit would be delivered, but that it might require a new prime minister to do so.

“All the attention in Westminster is focused on what comes after the prime minister, that’s one of the problems she has now in terms of delivering this kind of hodge podge set of proposals,” Nigel Dodds of the Democratic Unionist Party told Northern Irish broadcaster UTV, referring to her exit deal.

“Everybody is saying why should we vote for this when we don’t know who the next prime minister is going to be.”

6.20pm update: SNP European election candidate’s euro comments ‘sensible’ says Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon has been forced to deny the SNP is planning to use the euro despite saying comments by a candidate that it could happen were “perfectly sensible”.

The SNP’s lead candidate in the European election, Alyn Smith, said he is “agnostic” about what currency an independent Scotland would use.

He said he had no preference about retaining the pound, introducing a new Scottish currency or adopting the euro.

When asked about the comments, Ms Sturgeon said: “The SNP has no policy of using the euro and we’ve made that abundantly clear.”

Speaking at a European election campaign event where she met EU nationals in Edinburgh, the First Minister said: “Alan’s comments on currency are perfectly sensible.

6.15pm update: Hammond dubs May’s deal a ‘bold proposal’ in tweet

Chancellor Philip Hammond tweeted: “Britain needs a Brexit that feels like a compromise; one that everyone can live with.

“@theresa-may’s new Brexit deal is a bold proposal and one I encourage all members of the House of Commons to get behind so we can settle this question once and for all.”

Mrs May today announced MPs would be given a vote on a second referendum.

6.10pm update: Brexit Party to win most votes in Thursday’s ballot, polls say

The latest poll for the European Elections show that Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party is set to win the most votes in the UK, with establishment parties are expected to lose their majority across the bloc.

Theresa May’s Tories and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party will suffer as a result of Thursday’s ballot, which ends on Saturday May 26.

The Brexit Party is at 32 percent followed by Labour at 21 percent.

The Conservative Party is currently hovering at 11 percent.

The Lib Dems are at 15 percent, according to the Daily Telegraph.

6pm update: Corbyn rejects May’s new deal an hour after speech

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has condemned Mrs May’s speech hinting Labour will not support her new proposal.

He said all the Prime Minister is offering is a temporary customs union, which is against what his party stands for.

5.35pm update: Charity boss sacked for vile Farage tweet – ‘I’d prefer acid’

Charity boss boss has been sacked as part of an investigation into a Twitter post about the milkshake attack against Nigel Farage which read “I’d prefer ACID”.

Yesterday the Brexit Party leader was left covered in milkshake as he campaigned on the streets of Newcastle. Paul Crowther, 32, has been charged with common assault and criminal damage. After the attack a post from the account of Ruth Townsley @vintagecyclist said: “Bravo to Paul Crowther, good on you mate.

“Great that milkshakes have become a thing when it comes to the racists in our midst.

“I’d prefer acid but milkshakes will do for now I guess.”

The account was subsequently deleted – but not before it was spotted by the Brexit Party, which retweeted it from its Brexit Party South East account.

In a statement the charity said: “Happy City is aware that one of their employees has previously posted tweets from their personal account including one about the Nigel Farage protest.

“We do not in any way agree with the contents of these tweets which contradicted all of our strongly held values.

“We believe all politicians have a right to have their voices heard, and condemn violence of any sort at any level of society.

“Ruth Townsley no longer works with Happy City.”


Mrs May announced she will give MPs a say on a second referendum (Image: SKY NEWS)

5.15pm update: Boris Johnson outlines Brexit values as leadership contest kicks off

Brexiteer Boris Johnson outlined a long list of values as the leadership battle to boot Theresa May off the top spot gets underway.

MP George Freeman originally shared the list which includes “fights injustices” and “empowers opportunity”, which was retweeted by Mr Johnson.

The tweet is timely considering Mrs May today announced her final push to get her Brexit deal through Parliament will mean giving MPs a vote on whether to hold a second referendum.

4.30pm update: May paves way for second referendum in statement

Prime Minister Theresa May has said in a speech she will allow MPs to vote on whether to hold a second referendum in a move that will be condemned by Brexiteers.

She announced a second referendum was now on the table as a part of her new bill.

She said MPs will need to “make their case” for a vote on whether to cancel Brexit.

Mrs May warned this was the last chance to avoid “a nightmare future of permanently polarised politics” and her deal would be guaranteed to last for “at least this Parliament”.

Her new bill will be published in the next few days, she said.

3.50pm update: Election bosses find ‘no evidence of any impropriety’ in Brexit Party’s funding

The Electoral Commission has “found no evidence of any impropriety” in the Brexit Party’s funding, one of the party’s prospective MEPs has claimed.

Martin Daubney, candidate for the party in the West Midlands, tweeted: “BREAKING: News just announced at @brexitparty-uk candidate meeting that the Electoral Commission has found no evidence of any impropriety with our funding system. HUGE cheers goes up from all 70 candidates. Gordon Brown utterly failed.”

He added: “The establishment tried and failed again to stop us. And in the process exposed themselves as the anti democratic meddlers they truly are £ChangePoliticsForGood.”

Brexit party leader Mr Farage called the claim made by ex PM Gordon Brown a “disgusting smear” yesterday.

Willie Rennie

Willie Rennie looks delighted as he takes to the water on his skis (Image: PA)

2.15pm update: Rennie makes a splash with elections publicity stunt

Scottish Liberal Democrat Willie Rennie has taken to waterskis to illustrate what he claims is a “rising tide” of support for his party ahead of the European elections.

The party leader said a vote for the Lib Dems was a vote in opposition to Brexit during his campaign visit to Waterski and Wakeboard Scotland in Dunfermline, Fife, on Tuesday.

Mr Rennie said support for the Liberal Democrats has been increasing in the run-up to the election on Thursday so he chose to take to the waves to show that.

He said: “With just days to go until the European election we are seeing a wave of support for the Liberal Democrats.

“People want a party who are clear and unambiguous about their support for remaining in the EU.

“It’s about the rising tide of the Lib Dems. We’ve got more and more people rallying behind us to try and stop Brexit.

1.49pm update “Normal campaigning is becoming very difficult”

Mr Farage added: “I just think we’ve reached a point where normal campaigning is becoming very difficult, and that in a democratic society cannot be a good thing.”

He said what happened to him was “part of something bigger that’s going on”.

He added: “Civilised democracy only works if you’ve got the loser’s consent – you know, you lose the election, you don’t like it, but you accept it because that’s the system.

“Ever since 24 June 2016 we’ve had senior members of the British establishment – including two former prime ministers – literally refusing to accept the result, saying that those that voted Brexit didn’t know what they were voting for – they’re thick, they’re stupid, they’re lazy, they’re racist, they’re working class, they’re fat, they’re horrible.”

1.45pm update: Farage concernd at “sheer level of hatred”

Nigel Farage has said he is “concerned” about the level of “hatred” being directed at him after he was doused with a milkshake.

The Brexit Party leader had a banana and salted caramel drink thrown at him while on a walkabout in Newcastle city centre on Monday afternoon.

He said he did not know what was being thrown at him, and called for a message to be sent that “people can’t behave like this”.

Asked if he would change the way he campaigns, Mr Farage told the Press Association: “I hope not but I am concerned about the sheer level of hatred coming from those who think they’re better than me.”

1.17pm update: Channel 4 News editor hopes to resolve access ban “ASAP”

Editor of Channel 4 News, Ben de Pear, said on Twitter: “We hope to resolve our access ban from Brexit Party events ASAP.

“We were unaware of the 6-week ban until last Thursday when we broadcast this Nigel Farage investigation, revealing he had been bankrolled by £450k from Arron Banks. Until then we had full access, including to Farage.”

An Electoral Commission spokeswoman said: “The Electoral Commission is an independent organisation accountable directly to the UK Parliament. We have no political bias.

“The selection process for commissioners is conducted by the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission.

“The proposal to appoint a member of the commission’s board is subject to consultation with the leaders of each registered political party that has two or more MPs in the House of Commons.”

1.12pm update: “I’m not on Russia’s payroll,” insists Farage

Mr Farage, who was accused earlier in the day by MEP Guy Verhofstadt of being paid by Russian President Vladimir Putin, rejected the claims during the course of his Press Association interview in which he discussed his decision not to speak to Channel 4 News.

He said: “If you think I’m funded by Russia, just watch Channel 4 News, because that’s the kind of tosh they come out with regularly, and I’ve just had enough of a series of accusations, in many cases based on nothing.

“This is a two way street – the relationship between people in politics and the media is always going to be a slightly tense one, obviously, but it only works if everybody ultimately has a bit of respect for each other.

“And we as an organisation have at the moment lost respect for Channel 4 News.”

1.10pm update: Farage confirms C4 boycott

Mr Farage also confirmed he was not talking to Channel 4 News following their reports, saying: “I’m not speaking to them now, they are political activists.

“They are supposed to be a public service broadcaster, they’re not behaving in that way.

“We’ve no interest in talking to them whatsoever.”

1.05pm update: Electoral Commission “full of Remainers”, claims Farage

Nigel Farage has accused the Electoral Commission of being “absolutely full of Remainers” as the watchdog visited the Brexit Party’s headquarters amid a review into its donations system.

Mr Farage claimed the regulator was staffed by establishment figures and was not a neutral organisation – and said he believed his party was “more compliant” than any others standing in the European elections.

The Brexit Party leader, in an interview with the Press Association, also labelled Channel 4 News as “political activists”, after it reported that insurance tycoon Arron Banks had spent approximately £450,000 on Mr Farage in the year following the EU referendum in 2016.

Discussing his party’s donation system, he said: “I’ve got a team of four qualified accountants looking after our money, our income. I bet we’re more compliant than any of the other parties in this election.

“I’ve crossed with the Electoral Commission before – they are not a neutral organisation, absolutely full of Remainers, full of establishment figures.”

1.02pm update: Brexit Party in Scotland faces funding quiz

The Brexit Party in Scotland has been pushed to answer questions over its financial dealings.

Jim Ferguson was quizzed on the issue during a debate on STV’s Scotland Tonight programme on Monday.

Meanwhile, a review was launched by the Electoral Commission into the Brexit Party’s financial systems over payments made to Nigel Farage, with a visit to the party’s headquarters scheduled for Tuesday.

Former prime minister Gordon Brown called for an investigation into the finances of Mr Farage and the Brexit Party, warning democracy would be undermined if payments were not declared.

Last week, Arron Banks, the founder of pro-Brexit group Leave.EU, confirmed a payment of £450,000 had been made to Mr Farage in the year after the Brexit referendum.

1pm update: Bannon and Macron square off in Paris

Steve Bannon and French President Emmanuel Macron are both in Paris as the European elections approach.

Mr Bannon, US President Donald Trump’s former strategist, is staying at the Bristol Hotel in Paris close to the Elysée Palace and given multiple interviews to French media attacking Mrl Macron.

He told Le Parisian Mr Macron “wants the United States of Europe” adding: “The European Parliament election is a referendum on him and his vision for Europe.”

Mr Macron responded by implying Marine Le Pen’s National Rally party was influenced by Mr Bannon, and reportedly called her “the enemy from without” at a small gathering of his supporters.

Jeremy Corbyn

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn poses for a selfie in Lambeth (Image: PA)

12.35pm update: Catalan politicians take up their seats

Jailed Catalan politicians have taken their seats in Spain’s parliament after being released from pre-trial detention for the occasion.

Two dozen MPs from an upstart far-right party also took their seats as the Spanish parliament convened after last month’s inconclusive general election.

Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez won the national election but fell short of enough seats to form a government on his own.

He has put off negotiations on governing alliances until after the European elections on Sunday, which in Spain coincides with votes to elect local councils and regional governments.

12pm update: French candidates clash over Orban

Leading French candidates in the European elections have clashed on the subject of right-wing Hungarian leader Viktor Orban.

Mr Orban – the country’s Prime Minister – is the leader of the Fidesz party, which is now suspended from the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP), with which Fidesz members previously sat.

Nathalie Loiseau, the top candidate for French President Emmanuel Macron’s so-called Renaissance campaign, claimed her list would ”never be part of a group that includes Fidesz”.

However, in a reference to Italian deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, Francois-Xavier Bellamy, of Les Republicains (LR) responded by saying: “By trying to exclude Mr Orban, you are going to push him into Salvini’s hands.”

11.31am update: Labour leader campaigns in Lambeth

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been pictured on the campaign trail in south London.

Mr Corbyn posed for selfies during a walkabout two days before the European elections.

Nigel Farage Vince Cable

Nigel Farage and Vince Cable will debate tomorrow (Image: Twitter)

11.22am update: Greens could be kingmakers, says MEP

The Greens are anticipating the possibility of emerging as “kingmakers” after the European elections this Thursday, a leading MEP has said.

Bas Eickhout, an MEP from the Netherlands and a co-candidate of Europe’s Green parties for European commission president, told the Guardian: “We’ll be at the table.

“We have a good chance to determine the new majorities. And we will have our demands, on green issues, social issues, and the rule of law.

“The mainstream parties are forecast to lose their joint majority for the very first time.

“At the same time, it’s going to become much harder for the centre right to court votes to their right. They will have to look to the progressives.”

11am update: Farage and Cable set for election face-off

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage and Lib Dem leader Vince Cable will face off in an election debate tomorow hosted by the Daily Telegraph.

Mr Farage tweeted: “I will take part in the only debate of the election campaign at 9am on Wednesday, up against @vincecable.”

10.56am update: GMB union boss sends election message

GMB union national officer Jude Brimble added: “We have already seen job losses and paused investment in foundational industries such as food manufacturing, car production and ceramics.

“The situation will only get worse if we end up with a rushed and disorderly Brexit.

“That’s why it is vital that politicians from all parties rule out a no-deal Brexit that would be devastating for our manufacturing and export industries.”

10.45am update: Tusk endorses former Change UK candidate

European Council President Donald Tusk has taken the unusual step of endorsing Change UK candidate and former Polish finance minister Jan Rostowski in his bid to secure to become an MEP for London in this Thursday’s elections.

Mr Rusk said: “Jan Rostowski worked with me as finance minister of Poland for six years and then as my Deputy Prime Minister.

“Not only was he the best finance minister in Europe during the financial crisis, he is also a very dear friend who would make a great MEP for London, which I know he loves.

“I urge Londoners who want Britain to stay in the EU to vote for him.”

Jan Rostowski

Jan Rostowski, pictured at Ealing Broadway tube station (Image: GETTY)

10.36am update: “European elections show what’s at stake,” says union boss

A disorderly Brexit would threaten the loss of skilled manufacturing jobs and millions of pounds of investment, a new study suggests.

Research by the GMB union indicated that manufacturing employs 2.5 million workers and contributes £118 billion a year to the economy.

The industry also supports another five million jobs in areas including the supply chain, said the GMB.

The union warned that studies have shown that many employers plan to cut jobs after the UK leaves the EU, while investment intentions are being affected by the current uncertainty.

GMB national officer Jude Brimble said: “These figures show what is at stake in the European elections.

“The prospect of a chaotic Brexit is sending a chill throughout manufacturing.”

Emmanuel Macron Marine Le Pen

Emmanuel Macron has said he wants to (Image: GETTY)

10.10am: Macron looks to woo voters with immigration message

French President Emmanuel Macron is trying to woo voters at Thursday’s European elections – by saying the EU needs to tighten its borders, echoing the message of far-right leaders including Marine Le Pen and Italy’s Matteo Salvini.

Mr Salvini told reporters yesterday: “We don’t protect our common borders enough.

“There is no solidarity anymore and too many differences in our asylum laws.

“I want to overhaul Schengen, with a smaller area if need be, a better protection of common borders, a harmonisation of asylum laws and oversight by a council of interior ministers.”

9.40am Patel criticises Hammond over no-deal comments

Tory MP Priti Patel has criticised chancellor Philip Hammond’s claims that a no-deal Brexit would be “damaging”.

Ms Patel, the former international development secretary said it was “not acceptable” for Mr Hammond to warn against leaving the EU without a deal.

Speaking days before Thursday’s European elections, she told talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer: “”I never want to run my colleagues down, certainly not the chancellor.

“But I think it’s wrong to effectively make remarks that rule out what the British public voted for.”

“I don’t think it is acceptable anymore to constantly rule out no deal. We had a Prime Minister who said over 100 times no deal is better than a bad deal.”

9.34am update: Populists could kill the EU, fears Verhoftstadt

European Parliamentary Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt fears the EU will “die” from the inside if right-wing populists triumph in this week’s European election.

The leading Belgian MEP, who is calling for his own bloc-wide reforms, claimed Matteo Salvini successfully creating a eurosceptic supergroup would be a “kiss of death” for Brussels.

But Mr Verhofstadt also insisted populists don’t pose the only threat to the EU, which also faces challenges from the Chinese, Russian and US “empires”.

He wants to recreate the “European dream” to help pro-Brussels politicians win the support of voters after the European elections, which Britain in Britain on Thursday.

9.24am update: Man charged over Farage milkshake incident

A man has been charged with common assault and criminal damage after throwing a milkshake at Nigel Farage.

The Brexit Party leader was left doused with the Five Guys banana and salted caramel drink while on a walkabout in Newcastle city centre on Monday afternoon.

On Tuesday, Northumbria Police said 32-year-old Paul Crowther has been charged with common assault and criminal damage following the incident.

The force said the criminal damage charge relates to a microphone that the politician was wearing at the time.

Guy Verhofstadt Nigel Farage

Guy Verhofstadt has claimed Matteo Salvini is in league with Russia (Image: GETTY)

9.15am update: Verhofstadt brands Le Pen a “puppet” of Trump and Putin

In a separate tweet, Mr Verhoftstadt also took aim at French National Rally leader Marine Le Pen, sharing a story about her winning praise from Steve Bannon, editor of right-wing website Breitbart.

In his accompanying message Mr Verhofstadt added: “In France & Europe, the choice for citizens is clear: letting our continent become a playground for Trump & Putin’s puppets or making it stronger & fit for the future by supporting the @Renaissance_UE list & all our pro-European allies all across #Europe!”

9.03am update: Electorial Commission visits Brexit Party headquarters

The Electoral Commission will visit the Brexit Party’s headquartrs on Tuesday after starting a review into the systems it has to receive donations.

The move comes after former prime minister Gordon Brown called for an investigation to be carried out into the finances of Nigel Farage and the Brexit Party.

Mr Brown, speaking in Glasgow on Monday, said democracy would continue to be undermined if payments to the party were not declared.

A commission spokesman said: “The Brexit Party, like all registered political parties, has to comply with laws that require any donation it accepts of over £500 to be from a permissible source.”

9am update: Farage “in league with Putin”, claims Verhofstadt

In his video, Mr Farage tells Mr Salvini: “You portray yourself as the leader of the extreme right-wing movement of Europe

He added: “Just like you, your extreme right-wing friends, Le Pen, Strache, Farage, Orban, are constantly plotting with and paid by Putin to destroy Europe.

“Hence I challenge you to a one on one debate as people have the right to know what devil’s plans you have.”

Guy Verhofstadt

Guy Verhofstadt throws down the gauntlet in a tweet (Image: Twitter)

8.50am Farage and Italy plotting with Putin to DESTROY EU – Verhofstadt

Guy Verhoftstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit representative, has claimed Italian deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini is “in league with Putin” – and challenged him to a debate on the future of the EU in a rant in which he also accused Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage of being in cahoots with the Russian leader.

Mr Salvini is an ardent critic of the bloc, and has angered Brussels with his defiant stance on immigration, while his coalition Government, which also features Five Star Movement leader Luigi Di Maio, and which is fronted by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, has attempted to set an austerity-busting budget which has put them at odds with EU chiefs.

In a video message directly addressed to Mr Salvini, Mr Verhofstadt said: “I challenge you to a one-on-one debate as people have the full right to know what devil’s plans you have in mind.” 

Mr Verhofstadt also attempted to link Lega leader Mr Salvini to other Eurosceptic figures, including Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage and Heinz-Christian Strache, the Austrian far-right leader forced to resign at the weekend as a result of corruption allegations caught on camera.

8.43am update: Salvini’s plans “the kiss of death”, claims Verhofstadt

In a separate interview with CNN, Mr Verhofstadt turned his attention to what he characterisd as Mr Salvini’s attempts to forge a Eurosceptic caucus within the bloc in order to push for reforms.

He said: “Reform? I don’t call that reform.

“I call that the kiss of death. Instead of beating it from outside it will die inside.”

8.30am update: Farage poised for election success after milkshake incident

Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party is poised to take almost one third of the vote in Thursday’s European elections amid signs that his support has been boosted after being covered in milkshake by a protestor in Newcastle.

Writing on Twitter, one supporter said: One said: “Good on you Nigel. Be a slap in the face for the lot of them on Thursday.”

Another said: “You gotta whole of votes here Nigel ….. thank goodness someone’s got clarity over that vote three years ago.”

A Comres poll published on Sunday on voting intentions for Thursday’s elections, based on interviews with 2,041 people on May 15 and 16, put the Brexit Party on 31 percent, up four points, with Labour lagging behind on 23 percent, down one point. The Tories were on nine percent, down one point.

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