The exchanges coming out of Brussels in the European Parliament are, sadly, as expected. You would think elected officials would be held to a higher standard of behaviour, decorum and maturity; instead, they have resorted to acting like children on a playground. More importantly, this sad show only reinforces the worst opinions Britons have about the EU elite.
The best comes from the always reliable European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker who has put a “ban” on any informal negotiations on Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. I am not sure how he plans to enforce this edict, or even if it is legal for him to do so. He also went on to ask Nigel Farage why he was there. Well, the UK still has all the legal rights and privileges as any other member of the EU because the UK is still a member of the EU.
This sad state of affairs of us-versus-them happened only four days after the referendum’s results; the wagons are being circled and lines are being drawn.
“If the UK has any sort of success while standing proudly outside of the EU, then the whole project will come crashing down.”
The EU should just say, “While not our preferred outcome, we respect your decision and will begin discussing the process of withdrawal to ensure an amicable outcome for all parties” and leave it at that. Rather, they have come out swinging and let it be known they will be making this process as difficult as possible for the UK – in short, to punish a member of the EU for taking advantage of their rights under their own national law and the Lisbon Treaty. How dare you!
At its heart, the EU is worried the whole political project is in jeopardy. However, if the EU cannot survive a member leaving – even one as significant as the UK – then it only shows how poor the foundations of the project really are.
Yet there is another far more pressing issue which must be haunting their dreams: what if the UK does better? In the words of Charlie Brown, “Argh!”. I believe the UK will be far better outside of the EU than it ever was in it during the past 40 years. The narrative has been how great the EU is (a very, very debatable point) and how awful life will be outside of it for Britain. If the UK has any sort of success while standing proudly outside of the EU, then the whole project will come crashing down.