Friday, 16 November, 2018

Jeremy Hunt under attack from former mandarins for Soviet jibe at EU

UK Foreign Secretary likens EU to both Soviet Union and a prison brings down a twitterstorm [Ticker] EU's Brexit strategy likened to 'Soviet Union'
Jeannette Daniel | 03 October, 2018, 21:48

Jeremy Hunt has compared the EU to the Soviet Union in a speech at the Conservative party conference, claiming it is like a "prison" that attempts to stop member states from leaving. The lesson of history is absolutely clear: "if you will turn the European Union from a club in the prison, the desire to leave will not diminish, but will grow, and we're not the only prisoner who wants to escape from captivity", - he said.

"If you reject the hand of friendship offered by our Prime Minister, you turn your back on the partnership that has given Europe more security, more freedom, more prosperity, more opportunities than ever before in history - and a setback for the European Union will become a wholly avoidable tragedy for Europe".

Mr Hunt echoed former prime minister Margaret Thatcher as he told the conference: "Of course we understand that the European Union wants to, it needs to, protect itself".

The former head of Foreign Office civil servants Lord Ricketts turned on Mr Hunt, calling his comments "unworthy of a British Foreign Secretary".

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Hunt's address to the party's annual conference in Birmingham was immediately seen by members and media as a claim to be considered a candidate to replace May if her leadership falters over a seemingly intractable Brexit process. "Its legal order has brought peace and prosperity after a century of war". Europe prospers when we both succeed and it's time to change your approach'. "The only punishment is the self-inflicted variety".

Latvian ambassador Baiba Braze said: "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 European Union has brought prosperity, equality, growth, respect".

And the Czech Republic's deputy foreign minister, Tomas Petricek, said Mr Hunt's comparison was "unfortunate", adding: "The EU is really not the USSR".

In his address to the party's annual gathering in Birmingham, the foreign secretary recalled a visit to Latvia, during which he said he saw how the Baltic state had developed into "a modern democracy, part of both North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the EU" in the wake of the Soviet Union's collapse.

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