Brexit EU negotiating team profile: European Parliament Brexit representative Guy Verhofstadt

Newington's Tiffany Burrows and Katie Milne profile Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit representative.

Age: 64

Background:

Former Belgian Prime Minister and current MEP, Guy Verhofstadt elected by the European Parliament to represent them in Brexit negotiations. He is currently the leader of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

Experience: 32 years

Verhofstadt joined the Belgian national parliament as a Member of the Chamber of Representatives in 1978, joining the Senate in 1995. He served in the National Government as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Budget, Scientific Research and the Plan before serving as Prime Minister from 1999-2008. He was briefly as President of the Council of the European Union in 2001 and has been an MEP since 2009.

Contention rating: 5/5

Early in 2017, within European politics, Verhofstadt controversially tried to forge an alliance with the Italian populist 5 Star Movement in an attempt to secure the European Parliament’s Presidency. Closer to home, in reference to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, following the Brexit vote in 2016, he described those politicians who had resigned as a result as “the rats are fleeing the sinking ship”. His appointment as negotiator sparked a hostile response from Nigel Farage, labelling it a “declaration of war on any sensible negotiation process”. More recently, after the third round of negotiations, Verhofstadt penned a piece for The Telegraph titled: “For years the EU bent over backwards to please Britain. Now you ask for 'flexibility'?”

Red tape rating: 2/5

First and foremost, Verhofstadt is a politician, so his exposure to bureaucracy has significantly less than had he worked his way through the ranks of the civil service.

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