I’ve always believed that, paradoxically, Brexit will only bolster the EU. In a calculated move, we will be (and have been) offered a deal so undesirable as to deter anti-EU movements in other countries. Such punitive disposition echoes the EU’s rejection of Alexis Tsipras’ anti-austerity propositions for Greece, on the grounds that they ‘would embolden other such movements across Europe’.
Does this relationship sound healthy to you? It didn’t to more Europeans than ever in May’s European elections. The centre’s 40-year stranglehold on the European Parliament was released, with the likes of Matteo Salvini’s League in Italy being returned in unprecedented numbers.
From November, the EU will have a new premiership tasked with learning the lessons from this election. Exeunt Tusk, Junker, and Draghi, to be replaced by Charles Michel, Ursula von der Leyen and Christine Lagarde. This constitutes a devoutly federalist cast, with Ursula von der Leyen publicly calling for a European army. Incoming ECB President Lagarde, in her former capacity managing director of the IMF, said the Greeks had "had a nice time" but now "it is payback time." Is it such sweeping vitriol which will stem the populist surge? It must be asked whether these are savvy selections in the circumstances.
The importance of these figures in influencing the fate of the Union is not to be understated; Lagarde’s remark that she was "not in the negotiation or renegotiation mood at all" (regarding Greece) encapsulates the colossal individual power at the zenith of Brussels bureaucracy. But the likes of Lagarde need to open their eyes; the blind are no longer leading the blind, but the angry and neglected.
The EU’s mass exposé is underway; now the rose-tinted glasses have been removed, I’m finding it difficult to put them back on.