When senior European politicians start reaching for the insults, it suggests that they believe the EU referendum is already lost and that Britain will vote to leave the union
And the latest inductee to the ranks of Foreigners Unwittingly Rooting for Brexit (FURP – it just sounds right) is French Economy Minister, Emmanuel Macron.
The Evening Standard duly reports Macron’s high-handed warning to us uppity Brits:
Britain will be no more significant than the island of Guernsey if it votes to leave the European Union next week, France’s economy minister has claimed.
In an interview with French newspaper Le Monde, Emmanuel Macron said the EU would also have to send “a very firm message and timetable” to Britain if its voters backed Brexit.
He said: “In the interests of the EU, we can’t leave any margin of ambiguity or let too much time go by. You’re either in or you’re out.
“Leaving the EU would mean the ‘Guernseyfication’ of the UK, which would then be a little country on the world scale.
“It would isolate itself and become a trading post and arbitration place at Europe’s border.”
A bit rich, one might think, coming from a minister who presides over one of the most defiantly sclerotic economies in Western Europe, and where the most timid labour market reforms suggested by President Hollande saw the country erupt in flames.
And yes – in the event of Brexit, Britain would of course immediately become just like Guernsey. At least, we would if Guernsey also possessed the fifth largest economy in the world, the second most projectable armed forces, a culture which is admired and consumed the world over, a language which doesn’t require constant governmental protection against decline, a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, and…oh yes, Trident nuclear weapons.
It is difficult to know how to interpret “interventions” in the Brexit debate of this kind. Can they be explained away as foreign politicians simply blowing off steam and releasing frustration for the consumption of their domestic audience, or are they intended to be picked up and have an impact here? It is certainly difficult to see how Macron could make such forceful comments without expecting them to be picked up, so let’s assume that this was part of a Brexit comms strategy approved by Manuel Valls and Francois Hollande.
In that case, deliberately provoking the Brits at this late stage in the campaign can only be a sign of desperation, of having given up completely – otherwise the French government would be gritting their teeth and flattering us no end right up until the close of polling. Only if one believes that one’s opponent can not be persuaded and won over does resorting to comically wild insults make any kind of sense.
If we see a similarly belligerent tone when Jean-Claude Juncker makes his eagerly-awaiting appearance on our shores next week then we will know for sure that the EU has indeed already severed its mental ties to Britain, and is preparing itself for the next phase – the negotiation of the terms of our departure.
So, without succumbing to complacency, let us welcome every slight, insult and threat uttered by pro-EU European leaders as a sign that we are doing something right.
Top Image: The EU Question
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