Whether it be here on the Continent or in the UK, Nicola Sturgeon seems to be the only person left who thinks the EU is worth damaging your credibility for. Her decision to escalate tensions by threatening to reveal data, after the European Commission bungled the vaccine response by getting involved when nations were ready to work together on a joint deal with the UK, reveals a rather unhealthy loyalty to the European project. Even after the fiasco over Northern Ireland created by President Ursula von der Leyen (who I am sure will struggle to win her next election, the EU in Nicola’s eyes can do no wrong.
However, the more interesting question is just what EU does Nicola Sturgeon think Scotland would be re-joining? I ask this because as of January, the seemingly inevitable move to Fortress Europe is well under way. Whilst the world was obsessing over the circus in America, an altogether more destabilising event was happening in Italy. The party of former PM Matteo Renzi withdrew his support from Giuseppe Conte’s Government and left it on the brink of collapse. Former European Central Bank Head Mario Draghi is expected to be the man to create a new Government, but it once again highlights who is lying in wait to take over.
Since their excommunication from the Government in 2019, the anti-immigration, anti-boat Lega under Matteo Salvini have maintained wide support amongst the Italian electorate and were Italy to go to the polls tomorrow, it is they who would be the largest party. To dampen any optimism for ‘progressives’, their recent electoral slide in the polls is not the result of a swing to the centre but to rapidly rising Brothers of Italy Party. Led by Giorgia Meloni, they are on course to go from just 2 per cent of the vote in 2013 to being the potentially third largest party in the Italian Parliament and the main coalition partner of Lega. The reality is that the only stable Government in Italy after a future election is going to be one that will be pushing boats back out to sea and daring the EU to stop them.
Some might suggest that Italy is just one case. Well, let us turn to Spain and Santiago Abascal. The leader of Vox is not exactly known for his progressive views and nor is his party but Vox are currently the third largest force in Spanish politics. Vox are set to break into the Catalan Parliament (for the avoidance of doubt, I mean elected into the building) for the first time in their history with the very real possibility of polling higher than the traditional party of the right, the Partido Popular. For the foreseeable future, there will be no right-wing government that can be formed in Spain without Vox and they certainly will not be concerning themselves too much with the rights of migrants from outside the EU or the EU’s ‘progressive’ values, values that some in the UK still imagine to be at the heart of Europe.
These new best friends now find their home in the European Conservatives and Reformists, the very bloc founded by David Cameron all those years ago. Earlier in January, Abascal and Meloni held an online public event on the ‘Future of Patriotism’. This brave new European future includes Abascal talking about “defeating the globalist agenda” and according to Ms Meloni, removing the Islamisation of Italian neighbourhoods. In Ms Meloni’s defence, it is refreshing to at least have one politician prepared to point out the giant Elephant in the room that is the massive demographic collapse in Southern European Nations. Still, team Fortress Europe are organised and more united than at any previous stage of the EU’s existence.
At this stage, who is going to stop them? Not the eastern bloc countries, who have already had quite enough of the liberal agenda set by the western half of the EU. Indeed, no better evidence of this can be found than the Hungarian Minister for Families Katalin Novak merrily sticking the boot into Mark Rutte on Twitter over the Dutch Government’s collapse. With the UK out, Poland has risen to be the sixth biggest EU economy. Poland’s continued economic growth over the last decade is slowly starting to change the terms of engagement between Eastern Europe and the old masters of the European Project.
Nor will there be any restraint via Angela Merkel, who has kept this show on the road for the last 16 years, as she is heading off into the sunset. For so long a steady hand on the till, her decision to allow over a million people from outside the EU’s borders into Germany has probably done more than anything else to create the conditions under which the likes of Abascal can thrive. Even Macron, who many are now pinning their hopes on to become a more powerful voice for Liberal Europe, is now polling behind Le Pen in the first round of French Presidential voting.
Despite the delusions of those in the UK who use the EU as a badge of progressive values, all they reveal is just how little attention they pay to European politics. Fortress Europe is coming and by the time the dust settles, the only man who will want the UK back in the EU is Nigel Farage.