GUY Verhofstadt was slapped down by a senior European Union official after comparing the bloc’s powerful executive to the “Soviet Union” at a summit of European liberals in Spain.
Mr Verhofstadt added: “Those great defenders of European freedom and democracy, must be turning in their graves.”
Lithuanian Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis sent the Foreign Secretary a passionate Twitter message in criticism of his comments.
The EU official wrote: “I was born in Soviet gulag and been imprisoned by KGB a few times in my life.
“Happy to brief you on the main differences between the EU and Soviet Union. And also why we escaped the USSR anytime. Whatever helps.”
Mr Hunt defended his speech, suggesting it “was a passionate request and desire for friendship with our European neighbours”.
He added: “But what I was saying is if the attitude of the EU is that someone that wants to leave the club has to be punished, then that’s not consistent with European ideals.”