The European Union’s Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, has called on pro-EU forces to defend the fragile union against populists. He said there is now “a Farage in every country”.

Barnier was addressing a conference of the powerful centre-right European People’s party (EPP). He warned the EU project was “under threat”.

“We will have to fight against those who want to demolish Europe with their fear, their populist deceit,” he told more than 700 EPP delegates in Helsinki, before naming the former Ukip leader Nigel Farage.

As reported by the Guardian, Barnier mentioned Brexit only to promise to “fulfil my Brexit mission to the end” and make a brief opening joke that his speech would be short because “the clock is ticking”.

Barnier was speaking as Brexit talks were in stalemate over the issue of the Irish backstop – an insurance plan to avoid creating a hard border on the island of Ireland.