The vision of a Left-wing Europe that excites “Re-joiners” is collapsing, according to leading Brexiteers who see eurosceptics on the march across the continent.
Parties on the populist Right with radically conservative social views have taken power or become major electoral forces in
a string of states, with profound consequences for the future of the EU.
The ideal of a federalist, Left-leaning union pushed forward by successive French and German governments has now been challenged by the rise of nationalist and hard Right parties.
Polish-born Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski claimed the only people left “enthusiastic about the EU project” were Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and his supporters.
Right-wing administrations in Hungary and Poland have horrified European liberals with their stance on issues including gay rights. But populist parties have won influence far beyond Eastern Europe, with Brothers of Italy co-founder Giorgia Meloni becoming Prime Minister and many Scandinavian voters embracing the likes of the Finns Party and Sweden Democrats.
Concern about mass immigration, resurgent nationalism and frustration with the high cost of living are considered key
reasons why EU citizens have turned away from traditional centrist parties.
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The UK has also set a precedent by cutting the cord with Brussels.
Mr Kawczynski says post-Brexit Britain has shown Europeans it was possible to strike major trade agreements outside the EU without the help of Brussels. “We are seeing the rise of eurosceptic parties across the whole continent,” he said.
“The Polish economy is on course to overtake France in the next 15 to 20 years, and there’s a huge eurosceptic movement now building up in Poland, because they are starting to wake up to the dead hand of the ineptitude of the European Union.
“We’ve entered the world’s largest and fastest growing trading bloc in the Far East so Britain has exposed that the emperor has no clothes. Many other European countries are looking at Britain and potentially leaving themselves, so the only people left on the continent who are enthusiastic about the EU project are Sir Keir and his acolytes.”
Former Ukip and Conservative MEP David Campbell Bannerman said while UK Left-wingers saw the EU as a “socialist Valhalla”, countries across Europe were going in a “very different direction”.
He said: “Europe is changing fast. It’s swinging against this socialist core which is increasingly remote and authoritarian.
“That’s what’s driving this, and it drove Brexit too. For Starmer to snuggle up to the EU again is going totally against the public mood right across Europe now.”
Former security minister Sir John Hayes said he thinks the EU is even in its “death throes” and will go the way of the Holy Roman Empire. He said: “There are periodically either well-intentioned or badly-intentioned plans to snuff out nation states.
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“They always seem at the time as if they are going to go on forever, but actually have a relatively short life. I suspect the same
will be true of the European Union. The European project is in its late stages now.
“I think we’ll see the EU enter its death throes and its demise can’t come too soon in my opinion. We should have inter-governmental co-operation – good relationships formed between free sovereign peoples.
“A healthy connection between nations, rather than the snuffing out of accountable democratic government.”
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