Britain’s most senior EU official launched a stinging attack on Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday, branding his comments about death threats against lawmakers “crass and dangerous”.
Johnson’s combative return to parliament on Wednesday following his humiliating Supreme Court defeat drew further criticism in Brussels, with a senior member of the European Parliament’s Brexit steering group accusing him of deliberately “antagonising” his way to a no-deal Brexit he can blame on others.
The prime minister is facing an angry backlash at home for his dismissive response to MPs complaining about his rhetoric and citing the fate of a colleague murdered by a far-right extremist during the Brexit referendum campaign.
Julian King, since 2016 Britain’s member of the European Commission, the bloc’s powerful executive, made a highly unusual intervention on Twitter to criticise Johnson.
“Crass and dangerous. If you think extreme language doesn’t fuel political violence across Europe, incl UK, then you’re not paying attention,” wrote King, whose work on the commission’s security brief has included confronting a rise of right-wing populism in online discourse.
Johnson has repeatedly used the word “surrender” to refer to the law forcing him to seek a new Brexit extension in case of no deal, and on Wednesday said that the best way to honour Jo Cox, the pro-European MP murdered during the 2016 campaign, was to “get Brexit done”.