Britain would be ‘stupid’ to leave the EU, says ex-Belgian PM as he tells Manchester to back pro-Europe parties

A contender for the Presidency of the European Union Commission told a packed crowd in Manchester that the idea of Britain leaving the EU was ‘stupid’.

Guy Verhofstadt was nominated by the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe party as a candidate for the presidency of the European commission, currently held by Jose Manuel Barroso.

The former Belgian Prime Minister, who was in Manchester to discuss ‘challenges to Europe’ at Manchester University on Friday, urged British voters to support the party who believes Britain’s future is lies as a member of the European Union.

“Britain needs to vote for those parties that are saying clearly that the future of Britain is inside the Union and not outside the Union,” he told MM.

“It is a stupid idea to even think about leaving the union because a huge number of industries, companies and jobs are dependent on the European internal market with its 515 million consumers.

“In the North West, for example, there are hundreds of thousands of jobs that can be lost by a move out of the EU.”

Verhofstadt has been a member of the European parliament since 2009, following his time as Belgian Prime Minister from 1999-2008.

The leader of the Group of Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe is a committed federalist and is calling for more integration within the European Union but in an ‘intelligent’ manner not with a ‘big bureaucratic superstate’.

This is bound to scare the numerous Euro-sceptics within British politics but the MEP explained that the Union is in need of a strong leadership capable of standing up to Paris and Berlin.

“We need a European leadership that is showing a vision for the future and presenting a project, how in a world dominated by empires we can defend our interests,” he said.

“Not a Europe with a weak commission that does not have the guts to come forward with a vision for the future and was simply listening to Paris and Berlin before they act.

“We are today losing our identity and sovereignty and that we can only regain that on a European level and the best way to protect British interests is not to do it alone, in a world dominated by empires, but to do it together in a more integrated and transparent European Union.”

Image courtesy of  ALDEADLE Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for EU, via Flickr, with thanks.

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