Global Financial Markets Forum 2016

George Osborne has 'foot in mouth' disease: Varoufakis

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George Osborne has 'foot-in-mouth disease': Varoufakis
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Yanis Varoufakis, the former Greek finance minister, has said that the U.K. finance minister has got a bad case of "foot in mouth disease" and is doing himself no favors by mocking him in parliament.

On Wednesday, the U.K.'s Chancellor George Osborne ridiculed a report saying that Varoufakis was advising the opposition Labour party, telling the House of Commons that "Varoufakis was recruited because Chairman Mao was dead and Mickey Mouse was busy."

Responding to the slur, Yanis Varoufakis told CNBC that he was intrigued that George Osborne had "this foot in mouth disease."

"So when George Osborne comes out and pokes fun at me, obviously trying to luxuriate in the fact that I'm a defeated finance minister, yes, I am a defeated finance minister but in the hands of whom? Of an iron-clad European Union that decided to asphyxiate us using bank closures in order to impose upon us another extend and pretend bailout. The British people know that."

"Does George Osborne really seriously believe that by mocking me he is doing himself any favors in his intellectual class?...I don't think he is doing himself any intellectual favors."

"He seems unable to prevent own goals being scored all the time," he added.

Varoufakis said he was supporting the campaign for Britain to stay in the European Union (EU) but that he had been impressed with the "leave" arguments put forward by conservative politicians Boris Johnson and Michael Gove. They had, he said, "sounder intellectual ideas" than Osborne.

In happier times. Britain's Finance Minister George Osborne bids farewell to Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis after a meeting at 11 Downing Street in London on February 2, 2015.

Earlier in the week it emerged that the Greek Marxist economist was going to advise the U.K.'s Labour party "in some capacity," according to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Varoufakis told CNBC that there was no formal contract and that he was "talking to everybody" including Caroline Lucas from the Green party and former Conservative Chancellor Normal Lamont.

Talking to each other, he said, would help find common ground and a "common program to stop this slide into the abyss" in Europe. Asked whether he was receiving any money from the Labour party, he said: "Of course not. I have no such contract with anyone, let alone Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party."

Varoufakis became a very public figure when Greece's financial crisis reached a peak in 2015 and the country came very close to abandoning both its bailout program and the euro zone.

Close to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Varoufakis led the Syriza party's charge against austerity but his straight-talking and uncompromising beliefs caused tension with other euro zone finance ministers.

Eyebrows were raised at the thought of Labour associating itself with a controversial figure like Varoufakis and whether it could hamper the party's chances of winning the next general election. Varoufakis rebuffed that notion, however.

"Whether Jeremy Corbyn will win or not depends on his team's capacity to impress upon the British people that Labour offers them an answer to the greatest problem of the British Isles at the moment, which is very low investment in the things that Britain needs."

Despite the Greek people rejecting more austerity measures from lenders in a referendum last July, Varoufakis stepped down from his role a few days later following pressure from what he called Greece's "assorted partners."

In the end, as Greece faced impending bankruptcy, Tsipras conceded defeat and accepted stringent austerity and reforms in return for a third bailout, a move deplored by Varoufakis.

"The reason I would not sign it is because it was not sustainable. We were asked to sign another extend and pretend loan…It's about time we face up to reality," he said on Thursday.