Top MEP and outspoken federalist Guy Verhofstadt will lead Brexit negotiations for the European Parliament, the Conference of EU Presidents announced this afternoon (8 September).

The former prime minister of Belgium, who leads the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe in the parliament, has notably clashed with Nigel Farage and Ukip over the years.

Verhofstadt, 63, claimed Farage's MEP salary was the "biggest waste of money" for the EU in 2012.

He sparked controversy more recently when he said David Cameron, Boris Johnson and Farage were behaving "like rats fleeing a sinking ship" after the UK voted to leave the EU.

Verhofstadt will team up with Michel Barnier, who is leading negotiations for the European Commission.

He also led negotiations on behalf of the European Parliament for the inter-institutional agreement on Better Law Making, which was adopted in March.

The European Parliament will need to approve a possible agreement on the conditions for the UK's departure from the EU. The announcement comes after European Council President Donald Tusk met Theresa May in Number 10.

The EU chief urged the UK prime minister to get on with Brexit negotiations "asap". But the Conservative premier has ruled out triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the official mechanism to split from the EU, this year.

May also told MPs she would not give a "running commentary" on the negotiations, after Brexit Secretary David Davis was slapped down by Downing Street for saying the UK remaining in the EU's single market would be "improbable".

International Secretary Liam Fox revealed today that his ministry has launched an international recruitment drive for a top civil servant, while Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake warned a leading Brexit negotiator could cost taxpayers' £750,000 a year.


"Guy Verhofstadt hates everything we stand for which should mean a much shorter renegotiation," Nigel Farage said.

"Verhofstadt is a fanatical supporter of EU federalism even by the standards of the European Parliament. This appointment will no doubt speed up the UK's exit from the European Union."