Donald Trump and his populist advisers in the White House are one of the main three existential threats facing the European Union - and not Brexit - the chief Brexit negotiator of the European Parliament has claimed.
Guy Verhofstadt, a former Belgian prime minister and arch European federalist who recently returned from a tour of the US, said that it was now clear that Europe had "fewer friends than ever" in Washington.
Setting out the three main existential crises threatening Europe, Mr Verhofstadt listed radical Islamic terror, the revanchist Russian President Vladimir Putin and his funding of anti-EU, far-right parties and destabilising of Europe, and Donald Trump, the new US president.
"We have a third front undermining the European Union, and it is Donald Trump who has joined [the far-right parties] from across the Atlantic. He has talked fairly favourably of other countries wanting to break away from the EU, and that he hoped for disintegration of the European Union."
Mr Verhofstadt singled out the "enormous influence" of Steve Bannon, the Breitbart News founder who is now chief strategist to Mr Trump and was recently promoted to enhanced positions in the US National Security Council.
"Every European that I met in the US had only one conclusion, which is that the EU has fewer friends than ever in the USA today," he added, saying that the Trump administration had imported European populist views via figures like Nigel Farage and Marine Le Pen, whom Mr Bannon is known to admire.
Mr Verhofstadt repeated his view that Brexit was a "wrong decision" and a "disaster" but said that Britain's exit must now provide the springboard for the realisation of his dream of a federal Europe with its own treasury and common defence forces when the UK leaves.
"Brexit is a golden opportunity not only to negotiate a new partnership between the EU and Britain, but also to get our act together inside the EU and that second track is as important - if not more important - than the first track," he said in a lecture at Chatham House, the foreign affairs think-tank. (© Daily Telegraph, London)
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