EU negotiators beware. At least some of those on the other side of the table from you don’t just want Britain to leave the EU. They want to see the end of the EU altogether.
That’s been the aim of prominent Brexit campaigners from the start. And it’s certainly the aim of the guy who started Brexit: UKIP MEP and their former leader, Nigel Farage.
Last September, Mr Farage received a standing ovation at a far-right rally in Berlin when he addressed Germany’s anti-EU party, Alternative for Germany (AfD).
Mr Farage was applauded after urging the AfD to fight for German independence from the EU.
This is nothing new. On the morning of the referendum, with his and his party’s dreams realised, Mr Farage made clear that there was unfinished business with the EU.
“I hope this victory brings down this failed project … let’s get rid of the flag, the anthem, Brussels, and all that has gone wrong,” he said in his 4am victory speech.
On Talk Radio in Spain four years ago, Mr Farage said that he not only wanted Britain to leave the European Union, he also wanted to see “Europe out of the European Union” – in other words, the complete disintegration of the European Single Market.
Some ardent Tory Brexiters also share UKIP’s goal to see the end of the European Union altogether.
Conservative Steve Baker MP, Wycombe, one of Britain’s Brexit negotiators, said in 2010 that he wanted to see the European Union “wholly torn down.”
In a speech to a right-wing think tank he branded the EU as an “obstacle” to world peace and “incompatible” with a free society.
In his 2010 speech Mr Baker also told the cheering audience: “I think UKIP and the ‘Better Off Out’ campaign lack ambition. I think the European Union needs to be wholly torn down.”
In a keynote speech for Vote Leave during the referendum campaign, Michael Gove, MP, then Justice Secretary and now Secretary of State for the Environment, made similar comments about bringing down the EU.
“Britain voting to leave will be the beginning of something potentially even more exciting – the democratic liberation of a whole continent.”
He described Britain’s departure from the EU as “a contagion” that could spread across Europe.
Reporting on Mr Gove’s speech, the BBC stated: “Leaving the EU could also encourage others to follow suit, said Mr Gove.”
Commenting after the speech, a senior aide for the Leave campaign indicated to HeraldScotland that Mr Gove would be, “happy if Britain’s in-out referendum sparked similar polls across Europe.”
The Herald Scotland reporter asked if Brexit would lead to the break-up of the EU as we knew it and the aide replied, “Yes.”
When asked if the Out campaign hoped that it would trigger “the end of the Brussels block” the aide replied, “Certainly.”
In his speech, Mr Gove suggested that far from being the exception if Britain left the EU, it would become the norm as most other EU member states would choose to govern themselves. It was membership of the EU that was the anomaly, argued Mr Gove.
The Guardian headline was:
‘Brexit could spark democratic liberation of continent, says Gove’
The Telegraph headline:
‘Michael Gove urges EU referendum voters to trigger ‘the democratic liberation of a whole continent’
The Express headline:
‘BREXIT WILL BREAK-UP EU: Leave vote to spark domino effect across bloc, says Gove’
The Bloomberg headline:
‘U.K. Brexit Vote Would Be End of EU as We Know It, Gove Says’
The Irish Times headline:
‘Michael Gove says other EU states may leave EU’
Britain’s EU referendum was not just about whether Britain should remain in the European Union. For some leading Brexit campaigners, it was a referendum about whether the European Union itself should continue to exist.
Leading Brexit supporters hope that what happened in Britain on 23 June 2016 could result in the end of the EU. This is no doubt a wake-up call for pro-EU supporters across the continent.
Britain chose not to be one of the founding members of the Union back in 1957 but joined later, in 1973.
Now Britain is destined to be the only member ever to leave the Union, with the open aspiration of at least some ‘Leave’ campaigners that other EU members will also follow Britain in exiting the EU.
EU leaders are no doubt aware, and alarmed, that the downfall of the EU is the aim of at least two of Theresa May’s ministers.
For all of us who cherish the European Union as one of the most successful post-war projects, this is no longer just a battle about Brexit.
This is a campaign to ensure that Brexit politicians don’t succeed in inflicting grievous damage to the EU, with their stated aim to destroy the European Union entirely.
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