Addressing the Conservative Party Conference on Sunday, September 30, the British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt compared the European Union to the USSR.
Over the course of the next few days the foreign secretary, regarded as a more sober voice than his predecessor Boris Johnson, was immediately rebuked.
During his speech, the chief of British diplomacy reasoned that in rejecting Theresa May’s Brexit roadmap (Chequers), the EU was effectively making an example of the UK to “keep the club together.”
“The EU was set up to protect freedom; it was the Soviet Union that stopped people leaving,” Hunt said.
The statement was seen as reaching out to the Conservative base, which voted Leave in the EU referendum of 2016. In doing so, Hunt raised concerns of the ruling Conservative party becoming once again the party of white, elderly English, alienating both youth and business.
Nigel Farage hailed the speech, suggesting that Jeremy Hunt was using his own language. In doing so, the Member of the European Parliament exacerbated the fear that the Conservatives are becoming a “UKIP light” brand.
Diplomats with some experience pushed back on the statement. The former head of the British Diplomatic Service (FCO), Peter Ricketts, spoke of a statement that is “rubbish is unworthy of a British foreign secretary.” The statement was echoed by his successor at the helm of British diplomacy, Sir Simon Fraser, who spoke on Twitter of “a shocking failure of judgment for British foreign secretary to compare European Union with the Soviet Union.”
But, it was the Baltic states that reacted furiously.
The Estonian Ambassador to the UK Tiina Intelmann said the comparison was “insulting.” On his Twitter account, Latvia’s Ambassador to the UK, Baiba Braze, recalled that the USSR imprisoned, executed and deported thousands, while the EU brought “prosperity, equality, growth, respect.”
Lithuania’s EU Commissioner, Vytenis Andriukaitis, recalled his own imprisonment by KGB and offered to brief Mr Hunt in the differences between the EU and the Soviet Union.
The European Commission’s spokesman, Margaritis Schinas, suggested that everyone would benefit from opening a history book from time to time, “in particular foreign affairs ministers.”
سایت تابناک از انتشار نظرات حاوی توهین و افترا و نوشته شده با حروف لاتین (فینگیلیش) معذور است.