Leader comment: UK and EU must end their Respect War

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab plot their next move (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab plot their next move (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
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After the disappointing – to put in mildly – Brexit summit in Salzburg, Theresa May insisted her Government had shown nothing but respect towards the European Union and “the UK expects the same”.

Yesterday it was the EU’s turn to complain it was being ‘dissed’, with European Council president Donald Tusk saying huffily: “In respecting our partners, we expect the same in return.”

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To be fair, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s decision to compare the EU to the Soviet Union – the source of Tusk’s ire – was indeed insulting, unwise and ridiculous.

“The Soviet Union was about prisons and gulags, borders and walls, violence against citizens and neighbours. The European Union is about freedom and human rights, prosperity and peace, life without fear ... as someone who spent half his life in the Soviet bloc, I know what I am talking about,” he said.

Politicians on both sides, but particularly in the UK, need to dial down the antipathetic rhetoric. It may play well with some audiences at home, but such ill-mannered, undiplomatic remarks will only help usher in a potentially catastrophic no-deal Brexit.

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