The European Commissions health chief compared a hardline Brexit group to high-level Soviet officials who wanted to stop the reforms implemented by Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
Vytenis Andriukaitis on Thursday tweeted a photo of the European Research Group at a meeting this week in which Jacob Rees-Mogg called on Tory MPs to force Theresa May from office next to a photo of the State Committee on the State of Emergency, a group of senior Soviet officials who launched a failed coup against Gorbachev in 1991.
Both photos are composed entirely of middle-aged white men in suits. “Im not comparing anything,” said Andriukaitis, adding, “If i did, maybe Id say a word on gender representation.”
The tweet appears to be a dig at the ERGs failure, so far, to trigger a leadership contest in the Tory party. But it also revives a spat with U.K. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who in September compared the EU to the Soviet Union during a speech at the Tory party conference.
Describing the EUs approach to Brexit as an attempt to “keep the club together” by punishing “a member who leaves,” Hunt asked: “What happened to the confidence and ideals of the European dream? The EU was set up to protect freedom. It was the Soviet Union that stopped people leaving.”
“The lesson from history is clear: If you turn the EU club into a prison, the desire to get out wont diminish. It will grow and we wont be the only prisoner that will want to escape.”
One of these photos is from the press conference of the State of Emergency State Committee (GKCP) members at the #USSR Foreign Ministry.
But I am not comparing anything.
— Vytenis Andriukaitis (@V_Andriukaitis) November 20, 2018
That went down badly in the EU and especially with Andriukaitis, a Lithuanian who is European commissioner for health and food safety. He had a personal response for Hunt. “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 #EU and Soviet Union. And also why we escaped the #USSR. Anytime. Whatever helps,” he tweeted.