During the opening remarks of a speech given this week by Antonio Tajani, the outgoing President of the European Parliament, he said: “Welcome to the House of European democracy.” The irony of his words was not lost on me and my 28 fellow Brexit Party MEPs and the collective laugh of disbelief which we gave earned us our first icy stare of the day. As all honest people know, the EU is not run on truly democratic lines, and over the ensuing 48 hours, any suggestion that the European Parliament is somehow in control of the EU was demolished.
The Remain lobby likes to say that the UK should stay in the EU and reform it from within. Indeed, the new liberal group in the European Parliament, backed by France’s President Macron, has even renamed itself ‘Renew Europe’. But the idea of the bloc’s leaders showing any willingness to change in the way that Remainers think is possible is utterly naïve. This week, the various heads of EU nation state governments met in Brussels and over three days of horse trading decided between themselves who should run the EU for the next five years. That’s the way the game is played. Taxpayers and voters count for nothing.
Ever since the 1963 Elysee Treaty – the pact of friendship signed by France and West Germany – the European project has been directed by the French and Germans. Events of recent days confirm that this is still the case, albeit the balance of power within that relationship now rests with the Germans.
This explains why a former German defence minister, Ursula von der Leyen, has just been nominated to take on the key executive post of EU Commission President, effectively placing her in charge of 500 million EU citizens. Mrs von der Leyen, who was born and raised in Brussels as the daughter of a Eurocrat, is a proponent of a single European army. She is completely unknown outside Germany. As Jean Claude Juncker’s replacement, at least the Commission’s drinks bills will be lower in future!
Even more surprising is the nomination of Christine Lagarde as head of the European Central Bank. This French bureaucrat, whose recent career has been dogged by financial scandal, has no experience of running monetary policy and no training in Economics. Her key qualification appears to be her nationality (French) and her longstanding public support for the EU. An obscure Belgian politician called Charles Michel is also set to replace Donald Tusk as the President of the European Council. (I once asked in the EU parliament of Tusk’s predecessor, Herman Van Rompuy, “Who are you?” and I am sorely tempted to do the same again).
And a solution has also been found as to who the European Parliament should choose as its new President. The heads of state agreed it must be an unknown socialist from Italy, David Sassoli. So, on Wednesday morning, the European Parliament was asked to vote for Mr Sassoli, the better-known names all having been told to withdraw by their respective governments. Mr Sassoli was offered to us while standing against a few representatives from the smaller parliamentary groups. The “European House of Democracy” did what it was told and hey presto, we will have another Italian in charge of this impotent chamber. So, it’s business as usual in Brussels, with no voice now for Eastern Europe or the struggling southern Eurozone countries, which have been left out in the cold.
What all this tells us is that any attempt to democratise the EU is over. Any pretence that small individual nations like Scotland wield any influence has gone too. If either Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt seriously believes that any sensible renegotiation will follow their leadership victory, they’ve got another thing coming.
When the EU parliament was opened on Tuesday, a quartet and singer appeared before us to play the European anthem, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. Once, we were assured there would be no EU anthem after the failure to ratify the European Constitution. Yet here were hundreds of MEPs, obediently standing to attention with an almost religious devotion.
When Mr Tajani noticed that Brexit Party MEPs continued to sit, he implored us, saying: “You stand for the anthem of another country”. In other words, he admitted that he views the EU as a country. This is quite remarkable and must not be forgotten, after years of being told that the opposite is true.
As is now well known, we did stand up, and we turned our backs on proceedings. This may not have been very polite, but it was an act of silent protest at the monstrous way the nations of Europe are being destroyed. The Liberal Democrats were far less courteous, wearing bright yellow t-shirts with a ‘Bollocks to Brexit’ slogan on the back.
Inevitably, a storm of protest and outrage was unleashed against us. But we believe the real insult this week was directed at every voter in Europe courtesy of the actions of their leaders’ backroom deals in Brussels. They are killing democracy. Our party is there to fight for it.
The EU is a conglomerate of un-reformable, appalling institutions. The sooner we leave it and open the door for others to do the same, the better. This week marked the 243rd anniversary of the 4th of July, when a colony on the western edge of a Union deciding to leave without a deal. That colony turned into the United States of America.