“First, the Prime Minister personally and Conservative Party via its election manifesto have both undertaken to limit the Transition Period to December 2020 (now to be enacted into law) and not to honour those aspects of the Political Declaration which would allow the ECJ supremacy over the UK, bind the UK into a level playing field and assure fishing quotas to the EU. If the Government honours these undertakings and subject to the UK not entering into military interoperability with the EU, I would consider that Brexit has been delivered.
“Second, the Conservative Party has won a thumping election victory on the strength of its manifesto and executing the Withdrawal Agreement. It has a clear democratic mandate to fulfil its version of Brexit (including the manifesto pledges). Given the above, when the Withdrawal Agreement is presented to the European Parliament to be approved later this month, I shall vote in favour of it being ratified.”
– Ben Habib, Brexit Party MEP
Just when the Remain side had got some traction for their line about the evils of inflammatory language with that embarrassingly crude tweet from Leave.EU that called Angela Merkel a “kraut” and invoked the two world wars, along comes this soon-to-be-viral nugget from the European Parliament’s Brexit Co-ordinator.
The Independent – not the Express, not the Telegraph, not the Mail, the extremely pro-EU Independent – reports:
Brexiteers ‘are the real traitors’, EU’s Guy Verhofstadt says.
The European Parliament’s Brexit chief has branded Brexiteers “the real traitors”, in a significant escalation of rhetoric from Brussels.
Speaking in a debate in the EU’s legislature Guy Verhofstadt accused Boris Johnson of blaming everyone but himself for the situation the UK found itself in.
“The real reason why this is happening is very simply: it’s a blame game against everybody. A blame game against the European Union, against Ireland, against Mrs Merkel, against the British judicial system, against Labour, against the Lib Dems, even against Mrs May,” he said.
“The only one who is not to be blamed is Mr Johnson himself, apparently. But all the rest are the source of our problems. That is what is happening today. All those who are not playing his game are ‘traitors’ or a ‘collaborator’, or ‘surrenderers’.
“Well in my opinion, dear colleagues the real traitor is he or she who risks bringing disaster upon his country, its economy, and its citizens, by pushing Britain out of the European Union. That is in my opinion, a traitor.”
Let us hope the Liberal Democrats invite him back soon to do some more campaigning for them, so we can see how that line goes down on the doorsteps of Britain. Even in Camden it might be a hard sell.
As Guido reports, the speech that Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit Coordinator, made to the Liberal Democrat conference was rapturously received.
We cannot continue, dear friends, with a Europe that is always acting too little and too late. In the world order of tomorrow – the world order of tomorrow is not a world order based on nation states or countries; it is a world order that is based on empires. China is not a nation, it is a civilisation [inaudible word]. India – you know it better than I do – is not a nation. There are two thousand nations in India. There are twenty different languages that are used there. There are four big religions. At the same time it is the biggest democracy worldwide. The US is also an empire, more than a nation. Maybe tomorrow they will speak there more Spanish than English, I don’t know what will happen. And then finally, the Russian Federation. The world of tomorrow is a world of empires, in which we Europeans and you British can only defend your interests, your way of life, by doing it together in a European framework and in the European Union.
Some people objected to Guido’s description of this speech as saying that the EU needed to become an empire. Fair enough, he never said that. But he certainly seems to think that in order to survive among a world of empires the EU must become more like an empire than it is at present. And – how shall I put this? – neither he nor his audience seemed unhappy at the prospect. Liberalism once meant something different from this.
Guido reports on Nigel Farage’s response to Ursula von der Leyen, the former German defence minister, nominated by the European Council as president of the European Commission, now seeking confirmation from the European Parliament. He makes various accusations. Politico has extensive commentary on the subsequent debate. Her opening statement is recorded on Europa.eu.
Some things I have been able to glean:
- She wants to ratchet carbon emission reductions. I think that in a growing economy this will happen anyway; the EU will no doubt think that it needs to enforce it. “I will introduce a Carbon Border Tax to avoid carbon leakage”. That seems like something the UK might do well to opt out of, especially if we can get rid of Theresa May’s ridiculous carbon pledge too.
- She wants to “finally complete the Capital Markets Union” to help small-to-medium-sized enterprises. This is ostensibly to make cross-border investment easier, but I somehow doubt it involves reducing regulations.
- She wants to “reconcile the market with the social”. This sounds very much in line with demands to redefine growth and capitalism. In other words it is socialism.
- She wants international “tech giants” to pay their “fair share” of tax in Europe. So there will be reduced investment by mult-national companies in Europe.
- She is in favour of an EU standard of minimum wages negotiated by trade unions, which is somewhat at odds with her desire to decrease youth unemployment.
- She is very keen on the rule of law. Good. “I fully support an EU-wide Rule of Law Mechanism.” I have no idea what that is, though.
- I find it interesting to compare “a fully functioning Schengen Area of free movement, the key driver of our prosperity, security and freedoms” with “a reinforced European Border and Coast Guard Agency”.
- She will be happy to grant more delays of Brexit.
- She wants the EU to make more foreign policy decisions, and mentions the European Defence Union. I believe this is what might become an EU army, although it is so shrouded in technobabble I am not entirely sure. Leyen has written enthusiastically about an army, however.
- “I support a right of initiative for the European Parliament.” A criticism of the EU is that the people’s directly elected representatives cannot initiate legislation. I am ambivalent about this, however, since I imagine it will lead to even more legislation being passed.
I stand by my assertion that inside the EU the state is guaranteed to get bigger and more intrusive.