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Nigel Hastilow: Are the Italians getting a taste for ‘cakeism’?

By Nigel Hastilow | Nigel Hastilow | Published:

Despite Brussels’ desire to punish Britain, and even jeopardise peace in Northern Ireland, Brexit looks to be stirring up anti-EU passions elsewhere

Our friends in Europe?

It’s time Theresa May and her Brexit negotiators stopped talking about ‘our friends in Europe’. When it comes to the Brussels bureaucracy, these people are not our friends.

If anything, they are our enemies. They are determined to give Britain the hardest time possible as we try to extricate ourselves from their clutches.

They do not want to see some sort of ‘win-win’ Brexit which secures peace and prosperity all round. They’re quite prepared to put up with a ‘lose-lose’ settlement where everyone is worse off.

They want to punish the British voters for having the temerity to rebel against their unelected dictatorship. They want to send a message to any other country which might contemplate similar rebellion – Italy, for instance – that dissent will not be tolerated.

The EU’s negotiators will not compromise or offer anything in return for the many concessions Mrs May has already made in her vain attempt to win something from her ‘friends’ in Brussels.

The EU bureaucracy doesn’t mind if trade between Britain and the 27 countries it supposedly represents were to suffer. It’s willing to sacrifice jobs on both sides of the English Channel. It is even prepared to provoke bloodshed in Northern Ireland rather than accept that we want out.

Mrs May really does need to have her plans in place for what happens if there is no deal.

Her recent speech on Brexit was fair and reasonable, offering money and compromises to the EU in return for taking back control.

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Their reaction was that it was another example of British ‘cakeism’– that is to say, wanting to have our cake and eat it.

The European Parliament’s Brexit co-ordinator Guy Verhofstadt said: “While I welcome the call for a deep and special partnership, this cannot be achieved by putting a few extra cherries on the Brexit cake.”

The truth is Euro-bigwigs like Mr Verhofstadt, Donald Tusk and Michel Barnier are determined to punish Britain. They have no interest in our peace and prosperity and they are prepared to sacrifice just about anything to ensure Britain is worse off out.

This could be an argument for remaining inside the EU. But actually, it is a convincing reason why we should leave at the earliest opportunity, whatever the price. The tactics employed by the EU are despicable. Take the row over the border between Ulster and Ireland.

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Brussels is happy to jeopardise the Good Friday peace agreement by insisting a ‘soft border’ is unachievable and recommending a new boundary which would leave Northern Ireland inside the EU. This is a blatantly hostile act. The Brussels negotiators know very well they are playing a dangerous game which could provoke a new civil war in Northern Ireland.

This is not something a ‘friend’ would ever do – especially when the European Parliament has already received a report called: ‘Smart Border 2.0: Avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland for customs control and the free movement of persons.’

This report identifies a ‘technical solution provided is based on innovative approaches with a focus on cooperation, best practices and technology that is independent of any political agreements on the UK’s exit from the EU and offers a template for future UK-EU border relationships’.

But to punish Britain, the report has been completely ignored.

Prime Minister Theresa May

The Brussels elite’s loathing of democracy has now provoked two-thirds of Italians to vote for parties highly critical of the EU. The Five Star movement, which won 33 per cent of the votes, has campaigned against the EU’s approach to immigration and against the single currency.

But this was moderate compared with the anti-EU approach of the three more right-wing parties which polled 37 per cent of the vote between them.

Whatever Government emerges from the usual Italian coalition-building political spaghetti, it will be no friend of Brussels. And if one of the EU’s founding nations is questioning the benefits of membership there may come a point when Brussels has to mend its ways.

Matteo Salvini, the Northern League leader who could become Prime Minister, didn’t mince his words after last weekend’s election. “They won’t fool us anymore. In Italy, Italians will decide from now on. Not Berlin, not Paris, not Brussels.”

The British Government has faced an aggressive, hard-line approach from our ‘friends’ since we voted to leave the EU. But it doesn’t seem to occur to the Brussels elite that their disdain for the peoples of Europe works both ways.

They may be intent on making life as difficult as possible for the British, as they have done for the Greeks before us. But can they really afford to carry on alienating the people they are supposed to serve? Not if the Italians have their way.

Nigel Hastilow

By Nigel Hastilow

Express & Star columnist

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