Last night, Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary of the United Kingdom, prompted a diplomatic row after he compared the European Union to a Soviet Union “prison.”
Talking at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, Hunt slammed Brussels for its treatment of Theresa May, the British Prime Minister. He said that the “arrogance” of the European Union meant that he would vote to Leave if the referendum were held now, despite having supported Remain in 2016.
He stated: “The lesson from history is clear: if you turn the EU club into a prison, the desire to get out won’t diminish it will grow – and we won’t be the only prisoner that will want to escape.”
The comments of Hunt were picked up by the Latvian ambassador to the United Kingdom. In a tweet, he stated: “Soviets killed, deported, exiled and imprisoned 100 thousands of Latvia’s inhabitants after the illegal occupation in 1940, and ruined lives of 3 generations, while the EU has brought prosperity, equality, growth, respect.”
Hunt took up the position as the foreign secretary after Boris Johnson, the former incumbent, stepped down as a form of protest against the Chequers Brexit plans of PM May. He has been believed to be a potential candidate to succeed the embattled PM if ever she steps down from her position in the coming months.
During his address yesterday, he called for unity in the Conservative Party. He said that continued Tory infighting could provoke a “wrong Brexit, a [Jeremy] Corbyn Brexit or perhaps no Brexit at all.”
In comments that were aimed at EU leaders, he stated: “If you reject the hand of friendship offered by our Prime Minister you turn your back on the partnership that has given Europe more security, more freedom and more opportunities than ever in history.”
Tim Farron, the former Liberal Democrat leader, criticised the speech of Hunt. He called him a “third-rate Thatcher tribute act” and “fifth-rate Boris impersonator.”
Yesterday, Farron stated: “Today we see Jeremy Hunt making wild and crass comments about the EU. Comparing it to the USSR is just downright offensive,” He is a part of the pro-EU Best for Britain campaign.
He added: “He seems to have taken Boris’ job and his outlandish jibes.”