Thursday 8 May 2018
Yesterday marked the 74th anniversary of D-Day, when a multinational force, the largest sea and air invasion fleet ever assembled, successfully secured beachheads along the Normandy coast.
The courage of those men on Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, Sword, Pegasus Bridge and of the others dropped behind enemy lines contrasts sharply with the feebleness of today’s overlords in political office, particularly those managing Brexit.
D-Day, it’s awesome scale and its historic achievements, encourage us to look beyond the appeasers in Westminster to the wider state of Europe, the chief beneficiary of that great amphibious assault from this side of the Channel.
On Sunday, one in four Slovenian voters opted for the anti-migration Democratic Party, just the latest in a long list of anti-EU national elections.
This small, idyllic nation, part of the EU’s gateway to the East, has turned into a migrant highway since the crisis erupted in 2014. 500,000 illegal immigrants passed through Slovenia in 2015 alone. Their population is a mere two million. Border security and defence budgets have been increased. Understandably, popular anxiety persists.
Those sentiments are commonplace throughout the continent of course. The southernmost (and poorest parts) of neighbouring Italy have borne the brunt of the migrant crisis, the whole nation is enraged.
Salvini on the case, Merkel backpedalling
Late last week, the Lega party – whose stronghold is in the north of the country – formed a government with the largely southern Five Star Movement, its charismatic leader Matteo Salvini is the new interior minister. His first act was to reject the EU’s pointless tinkering with its disastrous asylum protocols.
Whatever the bureaucrats try to rejig, it won’t be enough, the EU us fundamentally flawed. The problem at hand is Europe’s open internal borders. Resurrecting controls is the mission of big popular political beasts like Salvini. His tough stance is already paying dividends. On Wednesday, Angela Merkel gave up on her long struggle to impose migrant quotas on other EU nations. On the same day, Wolfgang Schäuble, a fellow grandee of her CDU Party, told Newsnight that immigration was Germany’s biggest problem.
Merkel had aimed to use quotas to limit the damage she’d caused in inviting the world and their dog into Germany. Hungary and Poland led the counter-charge and have now won. Hungary, under the determined leadership of Viktor Orbán, aims to go further. The government today announced plans to criminalise illegal entry into the homeland.
The EU’s deficiencies go way beyond immigration. Austria’s prime minister, Sebastian Kurz this week called for major institutional and budgetary reform. With Emmanuel Macron pushing in the opposite direction, the youthful Kurz’s plan will most likely fail. The long Eurosceptic nation of Austria situated in the middle of the continent, adjacent to both Italy and Hungary, will then be further emboldened to take the fight to the gates of Brussels. Theresa May would be advised to break out from the northern front prised open by the Referendum.
Customs Union indefinitely
Mrs May was on typically shambolic form this week, typified by the disagreement with David Davis over the Irish backstop.
The day began encouragingly with Davis putting the prime minister in a difficult position by suggesting he may resign if she chose not to put a precise end-date on Britain’s continued participation in the Customs Union – for a bit more background, check out this morning’s edition of Brexit Brunch.
After a series of frantic emergency meetings between May and Davis, the Brexit Secretary announced he would not be resigning – intriguingly, he was already scheduled to make a written statement in Parliament – the government then promptly published its position on the Irish border.
A date has now been inserted, “the end of December 2021” at the latest, but it is prefixed by the following text: “the UK expects the future arrangement to be in place by…”
The future arrangement will be a high-tech customs system along Ireland’s internal border. If May is to meet her binding commitment already made to Brussels and Dublin, the new system will need to invisibly regulate the flow of traded goods, yet no such system exists anywhere in the world. Norway is about to trial a GPS-based system.
On each occasion a new government solution has surfaced – Max-Fac, the ten-mile buffer zone, the new economic partnership, to name a few – we at Leave.EU have dismissed it outright, simply because it is either unworkable (new partnership) or the EU would not accept it (Max-Fac). This latest proposal has already been communicated to Brussels in a formal “technical document”. Unsurprisingly, EU officials have already dismissed it. Even if it is accepted, it will be no victory.
Under different circumstances, we could have argued, “to hell with what the EU thinks”. However, Mrs May (the Appeaser) has ceded control to the EU at every turn, starting with the negotiating timetable – sequential rather than in parallel – to the outrageous divorce bill and then agreeing to no border infrastructure in Ireland. We now know she has no intention of threatening a no-deal. Brussels is in command.
The Allied landings and the tectonic shift they brought about have shown indelibly that a foe’s superior position can be reversed. A turnaround in the withdrawal negotiations is not out of the question. We would recommend Mrs May pause and reflect on Europe in 1944.