STRASBOURG (Reuters) - The centre-right leader in the European Parliament denounced British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Tuesday as arrogant and seeking to goad the European Union for calling on it to let Turkey join the bloc.
“It’s a purely arrogant provocation from Johnson when he’s telling us what we have to do,” said Manfred Weber, an ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel who leads the biggest bloc in the EU legislature.
Referring to comments Johnson made in Ankara two months ago, Weber said the Conservative minister’s successful referendum campaign for Britain to leave the European Union had included leaflets designed to raise fears of immigration by stating that Turkey would be joining the bloc — an outcome that Weber’s own party opposes, despite long-running talks on Turkish accession.
Noting how Johnson had, within weeks of the vote for Brexit in June, then assured Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan that Britain would help Ankara’s efforts to join the EU, Weber told a news conference in Strasbourg: “It’s unbelievable, it’s a provocation and it’s arrogant what we hear from him.
“I cannot respect this any more, what he is doing in this regard.”
Reporting by Alastair Macdonald in Brussels; editing by Philip Blenkinsop