A senior member of the European parliament warned the leaders of Britain’s Brexit movement on Tuesday that a previous generation of revolutionaries lost their heads.
Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the assembly’s Liberal group and its Brexit committee, was speaking after reports of British MPs comparing their leaders to 18th-century French figures.
According to Politico, wags see minister Michael Gove as alleged counterrevolutionary Jacques Pierre Brissot, and Boris Johnson as a flamboyant and venal revolutionary leader Georges Danton.
Brexiteer faction leader Jacob Rees-Mogg is compared to the uncompromising revolutionary purist Maximilien Robespierre.
Of course, all of these Frenchmen shared the same fate.
“We must remember that the efforts of these men were not appreciated by the common man they claimed to represent,” Verhofstadt told reporters at the parliament.
“Because they all ended under the guillotine.”
As frustration mounts with Prime Minister Theresa May’s attempts to force a renegotiation of the Brexit divorce deal, European officials have become more outspoken.
Last week Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, warned that leading Brexiteers like Rees-Mogg, Gove and Johnson would have a “special place in Hell”.
France’s President Emmanuel Macron has called the champions of Brexit “liars” and Luxembourg premier Xavier Bettel this week accused them of recklessly pushing a “blind” deal.
EU negotiator Michel Barnier has remained above the fray, but even his language has toughened and on Monday he warned: “Something has to move on the British side.”
And Verhofstadt, who is expected to meet senior British officials in Strasbourg this week, did not mince words, branding Brexit hardliners “irresponsible”.