— Knack (@Knack) February 18, 2018
Cringe lord Guy is at it again. On 18 February, Belgian local newspaper De Zondag published an interview with the European Parliament’s chief Brexit-negotiator and MEP Guy Verhofstadt. Verhofstadt, former Prime Minister of Belgium, was asked some questions on his participation in municipal elections in Ghent, where he lives. He intends to run as a ‘pusher’, garnering extra support for his party’s list, but says he’s considering actually taking his seat. From the local, the interview turns to more general matters, and Verhofstadt makes a number of observations which are worth commenting on. The following is a selection from the interview.
“I have had a problem with the word identity for centuries. Nationalists misuse it to collectively put people in one closet. We, citizens, are not allowed to accept that. Every human is different. You can’t catalog groups.(…)“
Even if we disregard the hyperbole, there is a lot in these few sentences to not understand. Verhofstadt has a problem with the word identity? The word, or the concept? It must be the word, because he has no problem with applying identities to groups, which he then catalogs: nationalists and citizens. Nationalists put people in one closet collectively, citizens have some moral duty to fight this. Even though, presumably, they are citizens of a nation? Suffice to say, even if what he means is difficult to understand, it’s clear that Verhofstadt is guilty of doing exaclty that, which he condemns in others.
When asked about Brexit, Verhofstadt claims that the European Parliament will defend the rights of European citizens living in the UK, and the citizens of the UK living in the European Union: “they aren’t to be disadvantaged by Brexit. I’m radical in this, yes. Theresa May has already said she wants to roll back those rights. Well, European Parliament will refuse such an outcome.”
How Theresa May will roll back rights of UK citizens in the EU, however, is unclear. What say the European Parliament has in the rights the UK gives to foreign nationals, is equally unclear.
Verhofstadt reiterates that ‘ideally’, the UK remains in the Free Trade Zone, but that this requires the UK to accept the free movement of people. “But they don’t want that.” He remains optimistic, however, claiming (it is unclear on what basis) that more and more people see Brexit as being mostly negative for them, and that a new generation of politicians will take the UK back into the EU in ten, fifteen years. Verhofstadt might have missed the memo that made clear that, while the politicians wanted Bremain, the people voted for Brexit.
When asked if he wasn’t, when he thinks Brexit is a passing thing, wasting his energy, Verhofstadt says:
“No. I don’t see Brexit as final, on the contrary. (…) This is a unique opportunity to finally really reform the Union. You feel Europe getting more popular. I’m not saying that citizens are less critical, but the urge to leave the Union is lessening. That is because of Brexit. This momentum must be seized. If that isn’t successful, the repercussions will truly be great. The populists and nationalists aren’t dead.“
There you go again, mister Verhofstadt, collectively putting people in one closet. Because one country is in the process of leaving the European Union, others don’t want to leave anymore? And populists and nationalists aren’t dead? Should they be? Are you suggesting the process should be speeded up? Or did you not choose your words carefully enough?
Whose fault is Brexit anyway? Could it be… yes, it’s the Russians! When asked if he knows about active Russian involvement in the British Brexit-referendum, Verhofstadt says:
“More and more things point at active Russian involvement, yes. Europe has now established a special unit which will specifically be occupied with preventing hacking, and thus foreign intervention. That’s how it should be done.“
Maybe, just maybe, this makes sense to Guy Verhofstadt. Let’s move on to the last quote. How must the EU deal with migration?
“That is thé challenge. Today, there is no migration policy. The member states are blocking that. Europe should finally regulate its outer borders. The Dublin Regulation doesn’t work. You have to put up border posts, also in countries like Egypt and Libanon, to receive refugees and economic migrants. Those posts have to handle all files and allow thoroughfare for those who have the right to. Subsequently, those people have to be spread across Europe, so they don’t all go to the same country.“
Verhofstadt mentions the Dublin Regulation. The Dublin Regulation is a migration policy. Verhofstadt seems to think it should be taken away from member states and given to Brussels. That’s not ‘no migration policy’: that’s demanding you be in full control of immigration. Quite different indeed.
And never mind that the EU’s relocation scheme has been a giant failure, because the free movement of people in the EU means, well, free movement, so you can’t keep people in one
closet country. They will simply go where they want to go. Or do you want to treat migrants like second-rate citizens, mister Verhofstadt, by getting rid of their free movement?
Not to mention the fact that, when Hungary wanted to protect the Schengen Treaty, and handle all files and only allow thoroughfare for those who have the ‘right’ to, Juncker threw a fit. But how else are you going to stop the problem of illegal immigration, mister Verhofstadt? You don’t talk about that. Do you want to take away their rubber boats? And please do stop pushing that ‘we need them for jobs‘ narrative, that’s just not the case.