BY SIMON O’LEARY
The irony of the EU being run by an unelected body failed to register with Donald Tusk on Saturday:
‘I was born exactly 60 years ago, so I am the same age as the European Community,’ said the solemn European Council President in Rome on Saturday. ‘At that time, we all looked to the West, towards a free and unifying Europe, instinctively feeling that this was the very future we were dreaming about. And although tanks and troops were sent against us, those dreams lived on,’ Tusk said. ‘I lived behind the Iron Curtain for more than half of my life, where it was forbidden to even dream about those values. Back then, that really was a two-speed Europe.’
With British Prime Minister Theresa May absent, leaders of the other 27 EU countries forced smiles and signed a new declaration on the Capitoline Hill where six founding states signed the Treaty of Rome on March 25, 1957.
With talk of even closer integration on the cards, even tighter than the Federation that the old USSR has become, Tusk was however honest enough to admit that the EU still faced the threat of disintegration. ‘Europe as a political entity will either be united, or will not be at all,’ Tusk warned as the EU faces up to unpopularity, Brexit, migration, stymied economies, terrorism and the new wave of populism which is sweeping across the continent.
With bookies William Hill slashing the odds on a Greece departure from the EU to 2/1 and Italy at 5/2, the prospect of further EU disintegration seems likely if not generally expected. Even founding father France is in the reckoning for departure at 3/1 although Le Pen seems to be up against it in the upcoming French elections.
Meanwhile, across the Channel on a sunny spring day, die-hard Remainers decided to mobilise their dwindling echo chamber and gather in Parliament Square in Westminster, where colleagues of slain PC Keith Palmer were paying their respects on their day off and operational police were already under pressure because of last week’s terror incident.
Some of their placards were works of art:
Some of their tweets were plain delusional:
Indicative of the Remainers’ decline were their speakers: Nick Clegg topped the bill and after that Tim Farron and then, err, that fine orator David Lammy took the mike.
Alastair Campbell opened the event with this confusing line: “Before we talk about Brexit, before we call on any of the speakers, we need to recognise that something really bad happened not far from here just the other day.” As the crowd looked across at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, where the Chilcot Enquiry had been held, Campbell turned to look towards Westminster Bridge.
We live in democracies where the will of the people seems to be respected by some and ignored by others. A reality that Mr Tusk, his unelected EU officials and the embarrassing dregs of the haughty Remoan movement would do well to submit to before populism moves further to the extremes as more people feel ignored and cheated. Their sense of entitlement is gob-smacking – ‘In democracy it’s your vote that counts; In feudalism, it’s your count that votes’ springs to mind.
The good news?
The train has left the station.
The only 48 that counts now are the 48 hours left to count down to Article 50.
May they pass swiftly, inevitably.