Britain’s most senior Conservative MEP Syed Kamall was today (12 April) caught on camera making a rude gesture towards ALDE boss Guy Verhofstadt, during the plenary debate at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
“Wanker,” said Brexit-backing Kamall, while employing the well-known Anglo-Saxon hand-gesture.
Kamall’s support for Brexit in the upcoming 23 June referendum, puts him at swords drawn with former Belgian PM Verhofstadt, who wants to create a United States of Europe.
He is the leader of the the European Conservatives and Reformists group, which in the 2014 European elections overtook Verhofstadt’s liberals to become the third biggest group in the Parliament.
Verhofstadt, a former Belgian Prime Minister, was calling for a single European intelligence agency, when Kamall blew a fuse.
A video taken of the exchange by the Financial Times’ Brussels bureau chief – and notable wag – Peter Spiegel quickly went viral in Brussels, Britain and beyond.
Verhofstadt later took to Twitter to repost the video. “This is what desperation looks like,” he said.
Kamall later responded:
You can take the boy out of North London… actually I'm personally fond of Guy @SpiegelPeter
— Syed Kamall (@SyedKamall) April 12, 2016
A single European intelligence agency would make it easier to prevent the failures in information sharing that contributed to the Brussels and Paris terror attacks, Verhofstadt had earlier argued.
— Guy Verhofstadt (@GuyVerhofstadt) April 12, 2016
Kamall’s outburst could be the result of his feeling the pressure about his position as ECR chief.
ECR sources have said Kamall was on “risky territory” with murmurings about his position from the other non-Tory parties in his group. The ECR has other member parties that do not support Brexit.
Kamall was said to be torn between his loyalty for Cameron and to close Eurosceptic allies Dan Hannan MEP and Martin Callanan, his predecessor as ECR chief.
His prolonged indecision had led to some MEPs running a book on when he would take a position.