Former Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt, arch-Eurofederalist, and leader of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, has penned a piece for The Huffington Post railing against the idea of a British exit from the EU. He doesn’t mince his words with his views of David Cameron’s impending call for Britain to renegotiate its relationship with the European Union:
Cameron will not succeed if he attempts to hold his European partners to ransom, exchanging acquiescence to EU treaty change over the eurozone for a unilateral repatriation of powers. Moreover, the rest of the EU knows that stability and economic recovery in the eurozone is vital to the UK’s own economic interests. Some have said Cameron is not going to get his way by pointing a gun at everyone else’s head. I believe a more apt metaphor would be that of a madman, threatening to blow himself up unless he gets his own way.
Verhofstadt represents a deeply closed mindset in Brussels that still supports the notion of ever closer union despite the myriad problems afflicting the European Project. For Verhofstadt and his colleagues the very idea of EU member states carving opt-outs on various policies is absolute anathema. Any challenge to the established order, to the dream of a federal European superstate, is sheer heresy.
Verhofstadt’s rigid views are not just representative of his own group in the European Parliament. They are the dominant sentiments held by a significant majority of Europe’s political elite, from the upper echelons of the European Commission to the halls of the German Chancellery. (See also this YouTube video posted by Dan Hannan earlier this week, where Verhofstadt openly mocks the UK in a speech to the European Parliament.)
As Verhofstadt’s comments show, the idea that London will be able to successfully renegotiate its relationship with the EU and re-shape the Union in Britain’s image is a fantasy. If David Cameron is serious about defending British sovereignty there can be only one option – supporting a British exit from the EU, and pledging to hold a referendum before, not after, the next general election. Britain is a great nation with a proud history, whose soldiers liberated Brussels in 1944. It does not need to take any lessons from a pompous Belgian politician who can barely disguise his contempt for the country that selflessly freed his own people from tyranny just two generations ago.