Michael Portillo takes brutal dig at Brussels over 'failure to learn' from Brexit vote

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Michael Portillo has insisted the European Union has “not learned” to reconsider plans for its future direction despite the growing opposition to the bloc which resulted in Brexit. Mr Portillo admitted he had hoped Britain voting to leave would have spurred reconsideration over projects for further integration. But the former Tory MP told BBC’s This Week he had not witnessed any change of plans from eurocrat. He said: “The one thing I had hoped would happen was that the EU might think about its direction.

“That it might think about whether federalising was such a good idea, might think about how to make itself more accountable and democratic. But there’s absolutely no sign that any of that is going to happen.

“Indeed, the removal of the British break seems, if anything, likely to accelerate the process towards this integration.”

Mr Portillo suggested the recent confirmation of former German defence minister Ursula von der Leyen as the next head of the European Commission, the bloc’s executive branch, signalled Brussels will indeed steam ahead to bring member states closer together.

He continued: “The selection of the new officers of the European Union – and one must say the selection, not election – of another federalist President of the European Commission, a lady who not only believes in the United States of Europe but a single European set of armed forces…

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“All of this suggests that nothing has been learned from the populist movements of Europe including, if you like, Brexit in this country.

“I don’t think the EU’s better off without us and I don’t think we’ve managed to stop the worst thing happening.”

Former German defence minister Mrs von der Leyen was confirmed in her new post on Tuesday, securing her election by a majority of nine votes.

MEPs from across the bloc had lamented her appointment from the European Council, accusing them of “backroom deals” after EU27 leaders chose to bypass the standing selection process for one of the top roles within the bloc.

She added: “In preserving the rights of citizens and in preserving peace and stability on the island of Ireland, these two priorities are mine too.

“However, I stand ready for a further extension of the withdrawal date should more time be required for a good reason.”

However, Boris Johnson, the frontrunner to become the next British Prime Minister, has pledged to deliver Brexit without further delay.

During the Tory leadership contest, Mr Johnson has maintained he will take Britain out of the bloc on October 31 “come what may”.

The former foreign secretary had also confirmed he would be willing to quit the EU without a formal agreement to ensure the result of the 2016 referendum is respected. 

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