The President of the European Council has appeared to mock Britain after the bloc agreed a free trade deal with Japan.
Donald Tusk tweeted a picture of him alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
The photo was accompanied by the caption: “We did it. We concluded EU-Japan political and trade talks. EU is more and more engaged globally. Global Europe!”
The use of the term “Global Europe” was interpreted by many seasoned political observers as a mocking reference to Prime Minister Theresa May’s use of the term “global Britain” to describe the UK’s future post-Brexit.
Mrs May used the phrase 10 times in her Lancaster House speech in January, a key address in which she fleshed out her Brexit approach ahead of triggering Article 50, the formal process for leaving the EU.
At a news conference after the deal with Japan was signed, Mr Tusk took aim at British critics of the bloc.
He said: “In the context of the discussion about Brexit, we have heard statements claiming that it isn’t worth being in the European Union, as it is easier to do global trade outside of the EU.
“Today we have shown that this is not true.
“The EU is more and more engaged globally. And ahead of the EU are negotiations with Mercosur countries, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia and others.”
Mr Tusk added: “Although some are saying that the time of isolationism and disintegration is coming again, we are demonstrating that this is not the case.
Video: In full: Theresa May’s Brexit speech
“That the world really doesn’t need to go a hundred years back in time. Quite the opposite. It doesn’t have to be so.”
EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan said the deal, which will open Japan to European high-value food and drink exports, “shows the importance of size in global trade negotiations”.
“No individual member state could ever hope to achieve what the EU can achieve together,” he said.
International Trade Secretary Liam Fox welcomed the deal, saying: “I am pleased to see encouraging progress on such an ambitious trading agreement. I urge both sides to maintain momentum as they work towards a swift conclusion of this deal.”
Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage played down the significance of the deal, tweeting: “Slow clap. Non-EU Switzerland did this years ago.”
Source: SKY News