Karel de Gucht told The Independent: “It’s really amazing how little a lot of British politicians know about Europe. They should get better acquainted with it.”
He made the comments while warning that it would be “madness” and a “disaster” for Britain to leave the EU and put vital trade benefits at risk, possibly at the cost of tens of thousands of jobs.
Mr De Gucht, who is currently tasked with negotiating a free trade agreement between the EU and the United States, urged British leaders not to indulge in a “blame game” with Brussels for the UK’s economic and social problems. “It’s really amazing how little a lot of British politicians know about Europe,” the former Belgian Foreign Minister said. “You need decision on the basis of facts and figures and arguments, not on the basis of myths.
“Why don’t people tell the truth about the EU?”
In his role as Trade Commissioner – a post previously held by Lord Mandelson – the Belgian politician is currently leading negotiations for a landmark agreement to abolish all business tariffs between the EU and the US.
Arguing that this would benefit every household of four by an average of £466 a year and boost GDP by 0.5 per cent – and that a common language means Britain stands to benefit the most – Mr de Gucht said: “It would be clear madness to get out at this moment in time.”
He added: “If this deal were to go about it would result in jobs in the hundreds of thousands [across the EU], so we are giving you the best argument to stay in the European Union by negotiating this deal with the United States,” he said.